Perpich Arts High School, hit in recent years by enrollment declines, has a new pitch: no dormitory fees for kids who live 20 miles or more from the Golden Valley campus.
The deal takes effect in the 2019-20 school year and would save a student $3,600 annually, the school said this week.
The Perpich board voted to eliminate the residential dormitory fees last week, a little more than a month before the Feb. 1 enrollment deadline.
In a news release, Principal Ahava Silkey-Jones said the board wanted to ensure that the school, which is open to students statewide, can attract "passionate young artists" without creating hardships for families.
"Our dorm fees have been an incredible barrier for students coming from greater Minnesota," said Board Member Leslie LeCuyer, who lives in Foley.
The high school is part of the Perpich Center for Arts Education, which is seeking to regain footing after shedding a Woodbury middle school that had stretched its resources.
Enrollment at the Golden Valley high school dropped from 253 students in 2013-14 to 164 students in 2017-18.
Perpich began the current school year with 118 students.
At a state House hearing in March, Joel Alter, evaluation manager for the legislative auditor's office, said that the center, which is a state agency, had taken steps to improve operations, but needed to attract more kids. Per-pupil costs were significant, he said then.
Part of the challenge for Perpich is its structure. It is open to juniors and seniors only, and students must apply for admission.
Asked if the potential cost of the fee waiver had been determined, and where the money to cover the cost would come from, Perpich spokeswoman Betsy Anderson replied in an e-mail Wednesday that the initiative will be a "priority" in the budget it is preparing for state action next year.
The residence hall can hold up to 140 students.
Right now, 30 percent of Perpich students come from outside the metro area.
Dormitory fees still will apply for students living within 20 miles of Perpich. But those families can apply for fee reductions or arrange payment schedules, the school said.
For enrollment information, go to the high school's website: perpich.mn.gov.