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Whats Your Deadbeat School Hitting The Kids Up For This Year?


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Just say NO to the shakedown from your kids school.

Budgets are tight, but why should you spend a bunch of money on maintenance supplies to keep the school running? Parents really need to wake up and see what becomes of education when school budgets are cut to nothing and no one does anything about it.

My kids elementary school in British Columbia says you can buy from the school, the basic pencils, pens and notebooks. And thats it. Or you can go out and buy your own. And our government cuts school funding here too. But if you cut the school funding too much and you end up graduating a bunch of morons for the next generation.

Beware of that "user fee" for the 'standard required class work/supplies', to graduate to the next grade class, that the school charges. It may not be legal under Federal laws.


aug 25 2010

SEATTLE -- With budgets tight and the needs long, school districts want parents to help pick up the slack.

More than ever before, families beginning back-to-school shopping are being asked to buy paper towels, cleaning supplies -- even refills for mops!

"We've always had a list... this list just happens to be longer," said mother Kristie Garrett.

Garrett is getting ready to send her two sons into third and sixth grades. In addition to notebooks and glue sticks on their school-issued supply lists, a few new things caught her attention.

"Such as painter's tape, or tissue, or reams of paper that teachers will need to print things out -- that was different," she said.

It's more money families need to fork over at a time when most families are watching every dime they spend.

But public school districts, and even private schools, say they have no choice, they have to lean on parents more than in the past.

"As schools have to make tough decisions about budgets, that anything they can do to keep their personnel in place, they will do," said Anne Haskins with St. Joseph's School.

At Seattle's St. Joseph, parents can pay to have Haskins do all the back-to-school shopping for them. She buys in bulk and saves money.

This year, nearly 400 bags are ready to go for students, priced from $50 to $140, depending on the grade level.

But mingled with pencils and folders are rolls of paper towels, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, even Ziploc bags, and plastic cutlery and bowls.

Families were even asked to supply wet Swiffer refills so the floor can get mopped.

"The 7th and 8th graders have what's called "clean teams," so they're responsible for cleaning not only their classrooms, but the hallways at the end of each day," Haskins said.

Buying more than "just the basics" could be enough to rub some parents the wrong way. But others say if the schools are coping with cutbacks, they're ready to pend a few more bucks.

"I'm fine buying it," said Ali Feary. "I realize that budgets are tight and things like that. That's easy to get -- two rolls of paper towels? Not that big of a problem."

But some parents say they've already been told that once school starts, they'll most likely get another shopping list. And across the country, a few districts are telling kids to come to school with a batch of toilet paper and garbage bags.

Fee's for extracurricular actives are legal to do since the school does not have to have the programs like after school football, etc.


july 23 2010

BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- When Patricia Cox started her teaching career in Youngstown decades ago, the school system provided everything her students needed in the classroom, down to the crayons and writing tablets.

Now retired, the Brunswick resident doesn't have to look far to see how things have changed.

"My own son has to pay over $300 a year in fees for each of his three kids," she said. "There's nothing much free about a public education these days, is there?"

Parents of public school students in Northeast Ohio have gotten used to shopping for long lists of school supplies as summer winds down. But in more and more cash-strapped districts, they're also getting a bill for fees.

In Strongsville, parents of every student in grades 1 through 12 will have to start paying a $60 general fee this fall. It will raise more than $300,000 a year to cover the cost of student handbooks, interim progress reports, report cards and paper used in classrooms.

While such districtwide fees are fairly uncommon, many -- Strongsville included -- charge for classroom materials like workbooks that aren't reused from one year to the next. In elementary and middle school grades, the sum usually ranges from $30 to $75. In high school, the charges apply to certain courses, with a science lab or art class typically costing $15 to $30.

On top of that, an increasing percentage of districts make students pay to participate in sports and clubs. Strongsville is charging $100 per student athlete for each sport. But in Medina the price tag is $660, in Brecksville-Broadview Heights it ranges up to $675, and in Parma it could go over $1,000 depending on the size of the team.

Parents now must pay

The charges are just a fraction of the $10,173 that is spent, on average, to educate each Ohio student. But they don't feel so small to the parents who have to pay them.

"Up and down the street, people are very upset about the fees," said Dean Triplett, whose daughter attends Muraski Elementary School in Strongsville. "I haven't seen the accounting that explains exactly how they came up with that $60 figure."

Strongsville Superintendent Jeff Lampert says he doesn't like the fees either but rising tax delinquencies, falling interest earnings and pessimism about state funding have forced the district to cut costs. Measures include closing an elementary school and replacing only one of 40 teachers who have retired.

"We gave a lot of thought to what [fee] amounts we'd need to help us get through this," Lampert said. "We do not take this lightly -- it's a very painful decision. We've gotten some calls from people about their personal economic status, and we'll be working with those folks on a case-by-case basis."

David Gusman, the lone board member to vote against the fees, said he thought there should be some other way to balance the budget.

"I felt we needed to make other cuts before laying on an extra cost to students to attend public school," he said. "The general fee is more of a way to recoup some of our expenses rather than a form of tuition, but it's a fine line."

Ohio law gives a lot of leeway to districts that are struggling with the same pressures as Strongsville. They're not allowed to charge for textbooks. And since last year, they can't charge fees for required instructional materials to students whose family income qualifies them for a free lunch.

Since Ohio is a local-control state, the state's education department doesn't have the power to disallow a fee, said spokesman Scott Blake. "That would have to be taken up with the local board and potentially with the court," he said.

Many Ohio schools charging fees

No one keeps track of all the different kinds of fees in the state's 600-plus districts and vocational schools. But Brittney Jarvie, a Bowling Green State University student, is finishing up a survey of pay-to-play fees as part of her internship with the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

She sent the form to 829 public and private schools that belong to the association. Based on the responses that she's received so far from 356 schools, more than 40 percent have athletic fees.

That compares with figures of 20 to 30 percent cited in various surveys done in the 1990s and 2000s.

The most common amount charged was $100, Jarvie said.

Pay-to-play has been around for more than 25 years. Passing on the costs of extracurriculars to families doesn't need voter approval, and it appeals to over-burdened taxpayers who grumble that parents should be responsible for their own kids.

But parents like Linda Powers see the down side firsthand. She has two children in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights system, where pay-to-participate fees range from $50 for lacrosse to $675 for varsity girls volleyball.

At the same time we're all getting the message that kids need to be more active, the fees are taking away options, she pointed out.

While the stars who have a shot at a scholarship probably will find a way to pay, the student who doesn't play much will weigh whether it's worth hundreds of dollars to spend time on the bench, she said.

"I go to a lot of high school sports events, and I can look at the size of their bench and tell you which schools are pay-to-play," Powers said.

Brecksville Superintendent Thomas Diringer agrees that "we want students involved in sports and we know extracurriculars have educational value, but we're not required to offer them. We've got to look at the bottom line."

The district is asking voters to approve a levy in November. If they agree, it will be the first tax to bring in new operating funds since 2004, and the board may decide to reduce fees. Meanwhile, officials there and elsewhere will continue to wrestle over what's the fairest method to assess the fees.

The Brecksville board decided each team should be self-supporting, resulting in charges that vary by sport instead of the single fee many districts use.

Parma -- which is taking its sixth try at getting a new tax passed in September -- has a similar approach, taking the entire cost of a sport or activity and dividing it by the number of participants. Some were canceled last school year because not enough students signed up.

Some districts cap fees to ease the burden

Strongsville officials put a cap on their fees so that a family pays no more than $180 a year for the general fee and no more than $300 a year for sports.

There is no cap in Medina, where 93 teaching positions have been cut despite rising enrollment. Families who have more than one child playing more than one varsity sport will have to shell out thousands of dollars.

That was the only way to make the sports program totally self-supporting, said Assistant Superintendent Rick Forney. If a levy passes in November, fees probably will be reduced but not disappear entirely, he said.

Upcoming elections also will determine the fate of pay-to-play fees in other districts. North Olmsted's fees will kick in if a tax request is turned down next month. If two tax issues pass in Lorain County's Columbia district in November, fees "will return to a manageable amount," according to a letter to parents.

In the meantime, booster clubs like the ones in Parma will hold fundraisers to help lower the pay-to-play fees. And student athletes will find jobs to help pay their way. In Medina, a website links them to community members who'll hire them to do chores.

In the end though, most area parents will have to come up with the money for one fee or another. Districts often ease the process by having them pay online with the same system that's used for depositing lunch money.

Many districts sternly warn that class schedules and report cards will be withheld if money is owed.

The Mentor district tries to work with parents and will set up installment plans when necessary, said Treasurer Daniel Wilson. If there's still no payment after a series of invoices and letters, the matter is turned over to a collection agency. That usually happens in a few dozen cases a year, he said.

"We try to be sensitive by having a long drawn-out process and multiple opportunities, but at the end of the day there has to be a consequence in order to be fair to everybody," Wilson said. "Most people have understood and accepted that."

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Utah has been doing this for a long time. When I moved to Salt lake City in '78 I was charged $59 per kid as an enrollment fee and you rented the books for the year. Didn't have these charges in California. I was totally shocked and said to my wife at the time I thought this was Public School.

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No uniforms here , but every year at the begining , we get a list of items we need to buy. Which includes the obvious , plus items like tissues , which still makes me ask wth , but if I think about it, imagine thousands of kids blowing there beaks each day , hell , it would take a levy on it's own. hahaha

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