Chickamauga City Schools' tuition for in-state, out-of-district students is going up from $500 to $700 per student. The fee for families with more than three children is capped at $2,100.
"Raising tuition is definitely not something we want to do," said system Superintendent Melody Day, adding that despite state cuts in funding since 2003, tuition has remained flat for the past seven years. "Our austerity cuts are $1 million per year from the state. We had no choice but to raise tuition.
"We have to either increase tuition or increase taxes."
The system has already cut positions and reduced staff by not replacing retiring teachers, she added, and every employee has had six furlough days per year for five years.
Despite the tuition increase, Day does not anticipate enrollment to decline.
"I think we will maintain our enrollment numbers," she said. "We are obligated to accept all city students."
Chickamauga City Schools enrolls approximately 1,400 students between its three schools: Chickamauga Elementary, Gordon Lee Middle and Gordon Lee Memorial High, according to Day.
"Every year we have a lot of students trying to get in the school system," she said. "Since 2000 we've added 100 students. We are full to capacity. We still provide an excellent education and our test scores are higher than ever."
The school system is adding onto the gym at Gordon Lee and putting new science labs there. The three schools share those facilities.
Despite the tremendous amount of applicants for Chickamauga City Schools, Day said the system does not have the funds or means to expand and does not want to.
"We try to accept Gordon Lee High School graduates' students. We also try to accept students of families that already have one child enrolled," she said, adding that, "Parents of out-of-district students enrolled must pay their child's tuition before they attend class in August."