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USD 489 Board of Education to revisit fee increases


By KARI BLURTON
USD 489
Hays Post

Going back to school this year at USD 489 might not cost as much as expected, as Hays USD 489 school board members on Monday discussed rethinking the fee increases enacted earlier this year.

To make up for a more than $1 million budget shortfall, the district had been facing the board voted in May to increase workbook/materials fees by $60, approved an activity fee increase of $50 dollars and a kindergarten fee of $150.

The board also agreed to the non-renewal of 16 teaching contracts and had said they hoped the fees and the passage of local option budget increase would be enough to bring back at least three teachers in “critical areas” to reduce classroom size in elementary classrooms.

The LOB increase, however, was soundly rejected by voters on June 27, failing by a 2-to-1 margin.

At Monday’s meeting, school board members discussed how the fees would be earmarked and distributed and how teachers could be brought back with just the one-year increase in fees.

According to Director of Finance Tracy Kaiser, the textbook/materials fee can only be used to buy new textbooks, leaving little left over to replace teachers.

However, funds from kindergarten fee could be used to rehire teachers, she said, as those funds are earmarked for the general fund.  

“We were hoping the (LOB increase) would go through and that funding and the fees … were really going to help with hiring some teachers back,” board vice president Marty Patterson said after the meeting. “After we really look at it, (the fees) may not help that much on getting teachers back.

“If it doesn’t help get teachers back, there is no sense in charging (the fees) unless the administration can come up with a good reason why,” he added.

The board agreed to discuss the fee increases at Monday’s USD 489 board work session. 

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  • Too much money

    Education is required and you propose a huge fee increase ($50 workbook & $60 activity). Sports are optional and yet you have no pay to play fee at all? Not even one cent. Something is wrong.

    • Kock’s end of public schools

      It’s okay. The Brownback/Koch plan is working. Less educated kansas = cheaper labor force, and more ill informed voters of course. Athletics are still needed because oil work is physically demanding.

      • Low wage earner?

        I agree with you. You go around town asking for sports donations and they give you money left and right. You ask the taxpayers to foot the 1/2 million sports bill and no one complains. Yet when some money is needed to keep our current teachers, they are let go instead. People complain that we shouldn’t have laptops in high school yet fully fund all our extra curricular sports. Larger class sizes for math and English, no problem. Cut sports or add a fee to help pay the cost…..no way! Our mentality is not creating a smarter youth that can do well in society. It’s creating one that will live on welfare and require government assistance because all they can hold is a minimum wage job.

        • Guest

          The teachers were let go before the LOB was brought to vote, not as a result of that vote. Don’t get me wrong; I am strongly in favor of bringing back the teachers and voted for the LOB. I just wanted to clarify that the teachers weren’t let go as a result of the LOB. Also, I believe the reason many voted against the LOB is perfectly exemplified in this article. As parents, we were informed there would be significant fee increases this year ($50 workbook increase; $60 activity increase; and $150 kindergarten fee increase). The Board approved these fee increases, apparently without having any idea whether they would actually help the cause. It sounds like they have now determined there is no real advantage to at least some of the fee increases because they could only be used for specific purposes (i.e., the workbook fee could only be used for workbooks and those costs are not going up). Our BOE has a tendency to engage in knee-jerk reactions and lacks the transparency needed to earn the public’s trust. All of this boils down to a trust issue, and it’s too bad because our kids deserve better and so does the public.

  • what a joke

    So, if they knew they couldn’t use the funds collected from the increased fees to hire back teachers; then why did they increase the fees in the first place??……….and they wanted us to give them more tax dollars! LOL!!

  • Taxpayer

    You people that keep harping on sports must not have kids that play. I agree kids should pay to play but there is other places to get money to. Like pay to participating in band, choir, theater. But I think you need to start at the top do we really need that many vice principals. When I went to school you had 1 principal and 1 vice principal and they are able to handle all this work.

  • tired taxpayer

    The board along with administration approve significant fee increases without understanding what they can do with the money or it being explained to them by the administration. Another example of poor management. Or were the fees put in place and then the potential subsequent reduction IF the LOB was passed a little incentive for the parents to vote in favor of the LOB?

    And even if the fees can only be used for books, can we not build up a surplus in that fund by leaving the fees in place to avoid general fund money in the future being used for books. They are in place, I say leave them.

    • No more fees

      My vote is to remove the fees. If you have say 2 or 3 kids in school, that is an additional $220 to $330 that one has to come up with at enrollment! How about putting those fees on sports instead? You don’t have to go out for sports and right now, they don’t have to pay a dime to sign up for any or even multiple sports.

      • tire taxpayer

        I am fine with the sports participation fee as well. In your example the additional book fee is less than $1 per day for the family. If they truly value their children’s education and want it to be the best, they should have no problem with that.

        • Ugh!

          To the few that are saying leave the fees, to some people, these additional fees thrown on top of enrollment fee that we already have to pay is a hardship for some people. Me being one of them! I am a single parent that doesn’t qualify for assistance for the reduced fees/lunches because I make over what they allow but that doesn’t mean I don’t live paycheck to paycheck. The amount that is stated above means that, say you have three children, it will cost almost $900 to enroll those three kids so if you are feeling generous tire taxpayer and tired taxpayer, I’m sure there will be people who would be more than willing to accept your handout. So if you aren’t willing to help, shut your piehole and I say reduce the already ridiculous fees that we have to pay.

          • tired tire taxpayer

            not sure how you are coming up with 900 for 3 kids, the increased fee is $160 plus $60 if for a total fee of 220 if they are in high school. 3 kids would be 660 not 900 and i believe grade school is a bit cheaper. This is total not the increase. i do not find this ridiculous and would do what i had to to cover this for my kids.

          • Ugh!

            Tired tire taxpayer, do you have kids that you enroll in school? I have a middle school aged child. There is already the $100 mandatory workbook fee, the $12 activity card fee, you have to pay a minimum of $50 for school lunches on enrollment day, $12 for a yearbook if you choose to get one, and there are a few other little fees that I had to pay last summer due to an extra activity my child participated in so you can do the math with the additional fees added .. If they do the additional increases, I will be paying approximately $294. If you have more than one child, you pay those same fees for every child so that’s how I came about the $900 and nope, it’s not any cheaper if they are in grade school. By the time you throw in all the school supplies that are needed and the extra crap that the grade school requires like the two reams of copy paper, the three boxes of kleenex and the hand sanitizer, it’s not any cheaper. The only fee that the grade school does not have is the activity card fee.

          • Step Up

            So, $300 at enrollment time is too much for a child? What do you think is a fair cost for 9 months of education in a very safe and positive learning environment? The extra $110 required this year is not out of line in my opinion and the kindergarten fee is too low. I have 3 children, one at each level and we are not wealthy people but the fee increase was enacted well ahead of time and people were allowed time to budget. Why do you divulge that you are a “single parent” as if that is to generate additional sympathy for your plight? We are all parents, single or otherwise! How about those daycare and pre-school costs, that $350-$450 per month is a lot more then $300 at enrollment. How did you survive that financially?

          • Local parent

            I think the fees are ridiculous also. I, like the person who posted earlier, have several kids in school. Just a few years ago, it wasn’t much at all to enroll. Now I have to save up $500+ and that is a lot. Especially when you consider how much is collected from taxpayers, then we are asked to foot another $500 personally, and then due to budget cuts, they want us to supply copy paper, kleenex, hand sanitizer, etc. Some of this is due to KS cutting funding down to nothing for schools. I don’t have a solution, but don’t think public school enrollment should remind me of college tuition days.

          • Ugh!

            Thanks for agreeing Local Parent!

          • stone_cold_steve_austin

            Well said.

          • Lefty54

            I agree. $300 for 180 days of school comes out to $1.67 a day. Seems like a huge bargain to me.

          • Ugh!

            Step up, I didn’t bring my child into this world as a single parent so those earlier costs of daycare and pre-school costs were shared costs. As far as asking for sympathy, that’s not my intent at all. Go ahead and take your living costs now that you share with your spouse and figure those costs only on your income, that is if you work and aren’t a stay at home parent and then you will be in my shoes. My living costs and whatever needs my child and I have don’t get reduced by half because my spouse and I aren’t together anymore. I still have to pay those same living expenses 100%. I didn’t ask to be a single parent and I don’t hate it but I don’t enjoy it either. I just do the best that I can and the fees that the school district is wanting to add just aren’t in my budget at this time so if you don’t know anything about that type of situation, please don’t judge!

          • Step up 2

            Yet you do not qualify for free/reduced lunches?? I find it hard to believe that $500 is not budgetable yet you earn too much for govt assistance. I know the procedure and your predicament seems a little odd…or you are choosing to live more elaborate then you should? The schools just sent out the free/reduced lunch paperwork and I suggest you fill it out and see what happens!

      • Guest

        Students involved in sports do have to pay. There was a $60 fee increase in that area alone (activity fee increase). It gets so old reading comments from people who are clearly trying to skew public opinion by telling half-truths or blatant lies. If you can’t change the public’s perception through honesty then maybe you need to re-evaluate your own stance.

        • Facts

          That $60 fee is for ALL students. So if you don’t go out for a single sport, you still pay that fee. I’m talking about a fee just for each sport you choose to play in. That’s why it gets so old, people like you that skew the public by lies.

          • stone_cold_steve_austin

            The activity fee is for more than just sports. There are many activities offered in the district which every child should take advantage of. If your child isn’t involved in one, then maybe they should be.

          • Clueless

            What other activities is this card for other than to get in sporting events and used in the cafeteria to apply the lunch charge to my kid’s account? Because I sure don’t know of anything else??

          • Guest

            So are you saying that only students involved in athletics should be charged this activity fee? (We do, after all, use school funds to transport band students to/from the athletic activities, music students to/from contests, and debate, forensic and scholars bowl students to/from tournaments.) Or are you saying that only athletics can be considered activities? (Bet that one got your panties all up in a bunch.) Can’t have your cake and eat it too. There’s a fact for you to swallow.

          • Facts

            I said students involved in SPORTS. I never mentioned band, music, debate, or forensics. SPORTS. Again, if you want to go out for SPORTS, then you pay a fee to help support that.

  • Taxpayer

    Another way they can save money stop the bus of kids. Parents need to take more responsibility about taking care of their kids on getting to school. I lived in the country my parents always made sure I got to school and home without a bus. if you want to ride the bus I think you should pay about $300 a year or more. Then some of these lazy parents would get out of bed and take their kids to school.

  • me

    The board also agreed to the non-renewal of 16 teaching contracts and had said they hoped the fees and the passage of local option budget increase would be enough to bring back at least three teachers in “critical areas” to reduce classroom size in elementary classrooms. According to Director of Finance Tracy Kaiser, the textbook/materials fee can only be used to buy new textbooks, leaving little left over to replace teachers. Looks like the administration and school board didn’t know what they were doing before they voted on raising the fees. Maybe next time they’ll do their homework before they vote.

  • DMH

    I miss Fred Kaufman more and more. He’s forgotten more than our current administration will ever know about school finance.