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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

Perrysburg school board splits over issue of new fees

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Perrysburg Board of Education has set some new fees for the coming school year, but not without some debate.

Two board members said they don't like charging fees for required classes and asked why the issue hadn't been discussed after the subject was brought up last year.

"Our core courses should not have additional fees," Gretchen Downs said.

Mrs. Downs and Walter Edinger voted against approving the fees.

Val Hovland, Mark Schoenlein, and Barry Van Hoozen voted for them.

The elementary school fees will be the same as this year: $16 for kindergarten, $33 for first, second, and third grades, and $38 for fourth and fifth grades.

At the junior high, students will be charged a flat fee of $55, with an additional $15 for eighth-grade foreign languages.

Treasurer Matt Feasel said some students pay $67 to $97 because of electives.

"It's going to be a savings to a lot of families," he said.

Mr. Edinger argued that the change means families save money on electives but are charged more for core courses.

Fees for high school courses vary from $5 to more than $50.

Mr. Edinger said he asks the district every year to look at ways to phase out fees for required courses.

Those fees aren't for textbooks, but for required consumable materials.

"For a public education, the requirements for that public education ... ought to be covered out of the general fund," Mr. Edinger said.

He asked why the finance committee had not studied the issue.

Mr. Van Hoozen said it had, but was stuck on a way to offset the loss of income, about $200,000.

"We felt we needed to make that up somewhere," he said.

Ms. Hovland said that if the district charged high school students more for parking passes, they would find the extra money so they could still drive to school. The parking fee is $20 a year.

A general extracurricular fee would help offset some of the loss, Mrs. Downs suggested.

Mr. Feasel said he had estimated that at the junior high, each student in an extracurricular activity would have to pay $85 to offset the loss of income from fees for required courses. At the high school, that amount would be $64.

At the elementary level, fees for required courses bring in $56,000.

At the junior high, they bring in $32,000, and at the high school, $50,650, Mr. Feasel said.

Mr. Edinger said he doesn't think charging fees for extracurriculars would accomplish anything.

"It's just shifting dollars around," he said.

Superintendent Michael Cline said fees could be considered when textbooks are up for adoption, as the board considers whether to purchase supplemental materials with the books.

"I do think it is a budget item, and we should look at it from a budget perspective," the superintendent said.

He suggested the finance committee could consider the issue before the board has to set fees again next spring.

"This is exactly where we were a year ago," Mrs. Downs said.

The action on the fees followed the approval of a redistricting plan for elementary students that will take effect next school year.



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