“Obviously, we think we provide a lot of great service to the town, including taking kids out of public schools, even though their parents are paying taxes toward the schools,” he said. “We let the town soccer program use our fields for free and we offer our facilities whenever we can.”
He added that paying the town close to $40,000 a year would be “brutal” and would most likely affect a lot of Andover families who send their children to the school.
Of the 436 students in pre-kindergarten through grade nine who are enrolled at Pike, about 200 are from Andover. Tuition ranges from $22,380 in the lower grades up to $26,280 in eighth grade. The fee for ninth grade is a little higher, although this year, for the first time in at least 20 years, the school didn’t have a ninth-grade class.
In any case, if Pike would start being required to pay property taxes, Waters said tuition for local and non-local families alike certainly would rise.
“The program we run is expensive,” he said. “More money going out the door will make our school even less accessible in terms of people being able to afford it. We know our families are already making sacrifices to send their children here, paying tuition and paying their property taxes.”
Waters said the first he learned of the proposal was through a call from a Townsman reporter last month.
“Nobody from the town has ever come to speak to us,” he said. “It’s a little surprising. They didn’t even check in.”
Rita Gardner, executive director of Melmark New England, a school for children with disabilities, said she was also unfamiliar with the proposal and couldn’t comment on it.
“We’ll be evaluating the proposal,” she said.
Tracy Sweet, director of communications at Phillips, issued a statement saying that school officials have had “preliminary conversations with town officials regarding the academy’s voluntary payment to the town and expect to continue the dialogue in the coming months. Our intention is to honor our long-standing commitment to being a good neighbor in the town of Andover.”