By Kim Walter
Parents of students in Warren County will see fewer fees associated with materials this school year.
During its recent meeting, the Warren County School Board voted to remove any fees that were charged across the student body.
Superintendent Pamela McInnis said that over recent years, school systems have been collecting fewer and fewer fees due to families struggling to pay them. During the past school year, the division's schools collected anywhere from 54 to 93 percent of the required fees, she said.
"What I'm gathering is that if there's something you are charging to every single student at a school, you can't actually require it," she said. "If a student is taking part in a special class with specific materials, that's different."
Previously, the policy regarding student fees included an "elementary school fee" for $10, an additional $3 to $8 cost for assignment books or folders, a middle school "materials fee" for $10, an assignment book fee for $5, and a high school "material fee" for $15.
The recent vote removed all of them.
A number of class fees will remain, especially at the middle and high school levels, but will accompany classes students choose to take.
McInnis said no matter what the fee is for, if a parent or family can't afford it, the school always works out a payment plan or simply covers the fee for them.
"With the number of kids on free and reduced lunches and things like that, it really isn't that hard to believe that these fees can be a burden," she said. "Especially when you have kids in a number of grade levels ... the fees really add up."
When some School Board members expressed concern over schools attempting to create their own fees to replace the discontinued ones, McInnis assured them that wouldn't happen.
She said in order for a fee to be created, it has to go through her office and eventually the School Board.
"There are definitely people watching at the school and office level to make sure these fees won't be replaced," she said.
McInnis said as far as she knew, the change in fees wouldn't surprise any school principals, as many of them have kept up with how other divisions are handling the issue.
The School Board previously had decided to return a portion of its $110,000 budget surplus to all the schools to help offset the cost of materials, she added.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org