Plainfield schools consider fee policy
By Tony Graf email@example.com February 1, 2013 5:30PM
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:39AM
Want your child to take the playing field? Then paying the fee may be more important than ever.
The Plainfield School District is stressed with a projected $1.8 million operating deficit at the end of this fiscal year. And the news from Springfield is not exactly chirpy.
Thus, the district is considering requiring families to pay their athletic fees if they want their children to participate in school sports. The particulars are not in place, but the administration is looking at possible options.
The district remains willing to address the needs of families who can demonstrate financial hardship.
Plainfield schools routinely rack up losses — in the six-digit range — over unpaid school fees, including athletic fees, said Tom Hernandez, district spokesman.
Since the start of this school year, the district has charged $351,899 in athletics-related fees. Of that, $34,249 was waived and $145,494 was paid.
That leaves $172,155 yet to be paid, school officials said.
“When we’re facing a
$2 million deficit, that gets to be real money,” Hernandez said.
In collecting student fees, the district does not have much leverage, Hernandez said. Now, the district is considering withholding participation in sports. There is no specific piece of bad news from Springfield that prompted this consideration. However, the district put its amended 2012-13 budget on display last week, and a deficit looms at the end of this fiscal year. School administrators are crafting a suggested fee policy for the school board’s review next month.
“We don’t want to punish the kids. They’re not responsible for the bad economy,” Hernandez said. “However, the school district doesn’t have a lot of options in recouping the money that’s due to us.”
Despite many available payment options, some families simply do not pay their fees, said Angie Smith, assistant superintendent for business and operations.
In those cases, letting some families not pay their fees is not fair to the families who pay, Hernandez said.