In just a few weeks, Loudon County schools will again be
in session and again this year, parents will be asked to dig deep into
their pockets to pay all sorts of fees being requested by the schools.
Especially in the high schools. The list of fees being charged has
reached a ridiculous level. Parking fees, locker fees, art fees,
academic fees, freshman fees, sophomore fees and on and on and on. I'm
just surprised they don't try to charge a fees fee.
The reality is, you don't have to pay most of these fees. You can if you want to but you don't have to. The Tennessee Department Of Education has released new guidelines regulating school fees. The department now says that schools may request fees but may not require those fees to be paid. The new guidelines are not income based but apply to everyone.
The law also requires that a fee waver request be included with the fee requests. So when your youngster comes home with his fee request from his school, it's up to you if you want to pay most of them.
See regulations below.
County's BOE debates school fees
Loudon County Board of Education on Thursday mulled school fees for the 2012-13 school year, with some board members questioning the $350 cheerleading fee at Greenback School versus $150 at Loudon High School.
Families also pay a $5 fee for a handbook, $20 for a locker at Greenback and $5 at Loudon High and $20 for a parking permit at both schools. Graduation cap, gowns and diploma certificate costs $55 at each school.
"I think that these school fees are fair, and some of these fees are for specific clubs, so that's kind of outside the normal school (operations)," Jason Vance, director of schools, said. "I think our fees are fair and probably less than surrounding counties that touch Loudon County."
BOE member Van Shaver said the letter sent to parents explaining the fees should also indicate that parents are not required to pay fees associated with academics.
"We now know that parents don't have to pay these, so my request would be that the cover letter explains to the parents that they don't have to pay these fees simply if they don't want to," Shaver said. "It's got nothing to do with income base. It's got nothing to do with anything, but if they choose not to pay these fees that are part of their education, they do not have to pay these fees."
Vance said that other charges, like $125 for basketball camp, were extracurricular and did need to be paid. Others, like $20 for a science lab, were part of students' education.
"If we don't have kids that turn in fees for those labs, we don't chase them down, but this goes a long way to provide the materials," Vance said.
BOE member Ric Best said he was concerned about the high fees associated with cheerleading. Greenback Principal Barbara Bradley and LHS Principal Cheri Parrish said students raise money to cover the charges.
"We have fundraisers, and our cheerleaders do not pay that," Bradley said. We're going to have two big fundraisers that will probably take (care of) all of that, and also the common knowledge in our school is that no child will not be able to participate in an activity because they're unable to pay."
Gary Ubben, BOE member, recommended that on the letter sent to parents the academic fees should be separated from the extracurricular fees. Shaver agreed about separating the costs.