Worthington parents will again be charged full tuition to send their children to the Metro High School.

Worthington parents will again be charged full tuition to send their children to the Metro High School.

The Worthington Board of Education voted 4-1 on Monday to permit high school students to enroll in the alternative high school, but only if their parents agree to pay the cost.

The Metro School is the state's first STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) school. It is located on the Ohio State University campus and receives support from the university and from Battelle.

All but one of 16 Franklin County districts send students to Metro. Worthington is the only district that requires parents to pick up all of the cost.

Last school year, six Worthington students were enrolled at the Metro School.

Since before the school opened two years ago, the Worthington board has made clear that it would support the school and allow students to attend, but would not shoulder any of the cost.

Last year, Worthington parents whose children attended Metro got a break when former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann ruled it unconstitutional for districts to require parents to pay to attend a public school. Worthington Superintendent Melissa Conrath worked out a deal that permitted the Worthington students to remain at Metro for the 2007-08 school year. Neither parents nor the district paid Metro.

Dann's decision was overruled by the Ohio legislature earlier this month, paving the way for the local board to again require that parents pay tuition.

This year's Metro School tuition is $6,300 per student.

Most districts cover all of the cost. Dublin pays 50 percent, and the Westerville Board of Education recently voted to pay the per-pupil base cost, leaving parents to pay approximately $800 this year.

"I don't care," said Worthington board member David Bressman in an interview on Tuesday. "Just because other districts are doing something doesn't mean we have to."

The board is simply sticking with the commitment it made to voters, he said.

Bressman said he has visited the school and believes it is doing a good job, but he would rather see district money used to support district programs such as the Linworth Alternative Program, Phoenix School, and other new programs under consideration.

Board member Charlie Wilson voted against charging parents. His motion to provide assistance for parents showing financial need was defeated.

He said he was troubled by the idea of a public school charging parents for their children to attend another public school.

For some students, the Metro School provides an ideal situation, and the board should not deny that opportunity, he said. It is not fair that only students whose parents have enough money to cover tuition be allowed to attend.

He also believes the district could be legally liable for not providing equal protection.

"I think to deny students for whom this could be the most appropriate opportunity because their parents can't afford it is a bad policy decision and perhaps actionable," he said on Tuesday.

In other actions on Monday, the board appointed Michelle Geissbuhler, Darnell Perkins, and Bob Horton to the board of trustees for the Peggy R. McConnell Center for the Arts. The city of Worthington and the Worthington Arts Council will also make appointments to the board, which will oversee the operation of the new arts center and arts programming for the community.