Increasing fees and reducing bus routes in an effort reduce the districts $1.3 million budget deficit were discussed at length at Monday’s USD 489 Board of Education work session.
Superintendent Dean Katt, USD 489 staff and board members discussed the possibility of raising the workbook/enrollment fee by anywhere frm $30 to $50. The current fee is $100. According to Tracy Kaiser, USD 489 business manager, the proposed increases would generate as much as $88,950 if the fee were increased to $50.
A proposed kindergarten fee of $400 for the 2014-15 school year also was discussed, a move Kaiser said would generate $54,800.
Kaiser noted students on the federal free lunch policy would be exempt from fees, and students on the reduced lunch plan would pay reduced fees.
She said the district would continue to work with those unable to pay the entire fee up front through payment plans.
Kaiser also offered various scenarios to include a pay-to-participate fee for sports and activities in which Hays Middle School students would pay a $25 fee to participate in sports and activities and Hays High School students would require a $50 fee pay-to-participate fee. According to Kaiser, the potential revenue amounts to a little more than $32,000 at the Hays Middle School and another $64,2oo if the fee were imposed at Hays High.
“If we are looking at kindergarten fees and transportation, I think we have to look at (pay-to-participate fees),” board President Greg Schwartz said.
Board member Josh Waddell expressed concern a pay-to-participate fee would affect fundraisers, which currently make up for a big portion of sports and activity funding.
“What I keep hearing (from residents) that if they have to pay-to-participate then ‘I’m not doing any fundraising,’ ” he said.
Board member Marty Patterson also expressed concern for parents who pay a fee for their student to play a sport and become upset if their child ends up becoming a “bench-warmer.”
Administration and board members also discussed options regarding transportation provided by Russ Henningsen, USD 489 transportation director. The options ranged from charging a $150 fee for busing students who live within two miles of the school they attend, not busing any students who live within a 2.5 radius, busing only special-education students, Head Start students and students outside the city limits.
The board and administration narrowed the eight options down to two, which will be discussed at next week’s board meeting.
The two options include no busing at all and pay mileage reimbursement to everyone outside the 2.5-mile radius; and bus students who live more than 2.5 miles from the school they attend, continue to bus students on “rural routes” and maintain the mileage reimbursement for families in rural areas who live more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.
Henningson said the latter option is the most common plan in the state and allows for the district to still maintain FTE weighting — an reimbursement of more than $230,000.
All items were moved to agenda for further discussion at Monday’s school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Rockwell Administration Building.