Starting next year, Bremen will receive more money for the admission of students from Lower Saxony – it is the first increase in more than 20 years.
Better learning in Bremen: Every day 2100 pupils commute from Lower Saxony Photo: dpa
Lower Saxony must pay Bremen more money in the future for students who attend school in Bremen. An agreement to this effect was signed by Lower Saxony’s Minister of Education Frauke Heiligenstadt and Bremen’s Senator for Education Claudia Bogedan (both SPD) yesterday, Monday, in Weyhe. The agreement will come into force from August next year.
Since many children from the surrounding areas of Lower Saxony attend a school in neighboring Bremen as so-called "commuter students", Lower Saxony has been paying the so-called "guest school fee" to the Hanseatic city since 1996. This is a lump sum that has amounted to 3.9 million euros annually since its introduction. However, this amount is now too little for Bremen, so the old agreement was terminated in June 2016.
Since then, representatives of both federal states have developed a new agreement, which has now been signed by both sides. In the future, Lower Saxony will pay Bremen an annual sum of 5.6 million euros for the admission of students from Lower Saxony – that is 1.7 million euros more than before. This adjustment was calculated on the basis of the average personnel expenses incurred per student in all types of schools in Bremen. If the number of commuting students increases or decreases by more than ten percent, the agreed lump-sum payment is adjusted again.
According to the most recent figures from October 2015, around 2100 children from Lower Saxony attended a school in Bremen. In the opposite direction, only around 400 students commuted. This makes a surplus of additional 1700 children, which Bremen’s school authority has to co-finance.
Such cross-state school visits are possible between Bremen and Lower Saxony if a declaration of exemption from the responsible school authority is available. This must prove that a child wishes to transfer to a school in the neighboring state for reasons of hardship or because of a special educational or subject-related teaching offer.
Those responsible in both federal states are satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations. According to Heiligenstadt, the agreement is an "expression of good neighborliness". It creates security for families whose children attend school outside the respective state border. For Bogedan, too, it is a success that the guest school fee will be significantly increased. According to the agreement, the goal should continue to be to improve school education primarily in the state, but students from other states are always welcome at local schools.
Criticism of the renewed agreement comes from the Bremen CDU faction, among others. The spokesman for education policy, Thomas vom Bruch, calls the new agreement a "bad deal" for Bremen. The costs per pupil*in in the Hanseatic city are over 6000 euros per year. Despite the increase in guest school fees, the costs incurred by students from Lower Saxony are not nearly covered. This is due to the fact that Bremen has not included the investment expenses such as building costs in the calculations of the lump sum.
Thomas vom Bruch, CDU
"The agreement is a bad deal"
What is certain is that the Bremen school authority will at least be relieved financially by the increased lump sum. Whether the costs incurred by commuter students can be covered with the help of payments from Lower Saxony will probably only be assessed in the next education budget.