DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 board on Tuesday voted unanimously to waive student fees for the 2020-21 school year.
The exceptions to the fees are driver’s education, summer school and parking fees.
Last year, registration fees brought in $452,000 to the district, with course fees, excluding driver’s education, bringing in an additional $63,000 and sports fees accounting for $53,000.
School Board President Sarah Moses said that with the extra strain put on parents by remote learning, waiving fees would be the best option.
“I would say I’m in favor of waiving fees completely this year considering all our families are going through, all the extra expenses that are going into educating students from home – babysitters, study areas, desks, supplies we wouldn’t necessarily have parents be getting,” Moses said. “It will bring relief to families in that sense.”
The board was presented three options for fee waivers. The first was waiving fees on a case-by-case basis, with parents filling out a request form to have all fees waived.
The second option was half price fees across the board with a waiver option for those families that still needed more financial help.
Board member Samantha McDavid asked what would happen for families who have already paid their registration for this year, and Cindy Carpenter, the district’s business and finance director, said they would either be given a credit for next year or refunded.
The board also heard a presentation from Interim Superintendent Griff Powell and administrators from across the district about the first seven school days.
Powell listed off attendance numbers for each school, and every school has seen an increase over the first seven school days of the year. Every elementary and middle school reported at least 92% attendance on Tuesday.
At the high school, while full-day attendance is averaging 83%, partial attendance was at 99%.
“It sounds disappointing, however, partial attendance is at 99%,” Powell said. “As Ricky said to Lucy a long time ago, that needs some ‘splaining.’ So I have the principal here to explain. But one thing I’ve told the principals is that normally we go after truancy later in September. We’re going to start doing wellness checks with our SROs early. Immediately. When we can’t contact parents, or can’t contact students, we’re going to do some home visits.”
DeKalb High School Principal James Horne said one variable is that it’s still add/drop weeks, so students that no longer want to take a class or are in a new class may still be trying to change schedules.
Horne said that there now are fewer than 50 students not registered after that number started the year at more than 150.