By Dedra Cordle
The South-Western City Schools District will not make changes to the existing student fee schedule for the 2022-2023 school year.
At its meeting on April 11, the board of education approved a recommendation from the district’s superintendent which requested they keep in place a 50 percent reduction in the student fee schedule established at the start of the 2020-2021 calendar year.
According to Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise, the request to renew the recommendation for the third consecutive year had much to do with a community that is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has had a profound financial impact on some of our families and children,” he said after the meeting.
The members of the board unanimously agreed, approving the request for another year.
Under the modified student fee schedule, the instructional fee, or consumable fee, will be set at $10 rather than the typical $20. Other fee reductions for courses include the arts, the sciences, and several career technical elective programs. Art courses offering one credit lab courses will be $17.50 plus the cost of personal items and projects, half-credit courses are set at $10 plus the cost of personal items and projects, and science fees are $5. Those taking family and consumer science courses, such as principles of food, culinary fundamentals, global foods, textiles and interior design, and textiles and construction and maintenance will be charged $10.
Those taking or seeking courses in the career-technical program will be sent literature listing lab fees and uniform costs to the students and families pending acceptance into the South-Western Career Academy.
High school students looking to reserve a space in their school’s parking lot will be assessed a fee of $25. That fee will be waived, however, if a parking pass was purchased at Columbus State Community College for on-campus courses. Students must show proof of the existence of their current pass.
While the board was unanimous in regard to the modified K-12 school fee schedule, they were not in lock-step when it came to the pay-to-participate fees.
In a 3-2 decision, the board voted to keep in place the modified pay-to-participate fees that were also established during the 2020-2021 calendar year. Members Kelli Martindale and Chris Boso were against the request, stating they wished to see the pay-to-participate fees nixed this year, if not altogether.
“I would be in favor of completely abolishing pay-to-participate fees,” said Martindale.
Boso said he often goes “back and forth” on the issue.
“I can see both sides of it,” he said.
He said he believes that while it is important that participants in athletics or other extracurricular activities have “skin in the game,” he also believes it is vitally important that everyone have the opportunity to participate regardless of their ability to pay.
“Sports develop kids so much as far as helping them learn to work and organize together with kids of all backgrounds,” he said.
When pay-to-participate was discussed last year, board member Cathy Johnson said it was implemented as part of a promise to the community while seeking a 7.4-mill continuous operating levy in 2009. She reiterated after the meeting it was important they stick to that promise.
Under the modified pay-to-participate fee schedule, families with children who participate at the middle school level will be asked to pay $37.50 per student, per sport; families with children at the high school level will be asked to pay $75 per student, per sport. Fees for marching band is $50; club participation is $5. The family cap is set at $250.
Families who are struggling to pay the fees, even at the reduced rate, can seek scholarships from Success Beyond the Classroom. Families can contact their schools for more information on the scholarship opportunities.