Thoughts on Extra School Fees

I throw this out for your consideration without taking sides, at this point.  The NY Times reported this morning about a lawsuit in California in which parents complain that they’re being hit with increasing fees for school-related activities.  Sound familiar?  The parents complain that the fees, for taking certain classes, for equipment, for course material, interfere with the right of their children to a free public education.  Any thoughts?

21 thoughts on “Thoughts on Extra School Fees

  • September 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm
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    California’s education funding system is also very different than ours.

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  • September 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm
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    Property taxes in Texas pay for the bulk of public schooling. With HPISD, and without taking sides whether this is right or not, a big percentage of the property taxes raised within HPISD boundaries flows out of HPISD to instead fund other schools where the amount of funds raised through property taxes is much lower. Funds for HPISD raised through fees (and other fundraising activities outside of property taxes) go 100% to HPISD. In theory, if we were able to keep property taxes in check and fund the shortfall through other methods (such as fees / fundraisers etc.), we could see less of the communities’ money exiting the HPISD system and going to other school systems. The desire to make the HPISD system excel (which arguably helps property values and ultimately the entire community, even those without children in the school system), and the fact that so much of the property taxes raised here is shifted to other areas, is why I think we see so much fundraising efforts within HPISD and why there are substantial fees to help pay for some of the extra activities made available.

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  • September 10, 2010 at 4:38 pm
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    Your post couldn’t have come at a better time. One of my kids brought home a form on Wedensday for a school sponsored athletic team. I didn’t get around to reading it until this morning. I was surprised that the last sheet in the stapled packet was a notice that a required $250 “athletic commitment to excellence fee” was due before students could participate in an event this weekend.

    Maybe this information had been given before but I certainly don’t remember it. I went back through various e-mails etc and I don’t see anything about it. We paid a required $15 fee (I think to the PTA) during the team meeting last week (I wasn’t sure what that was for) and I went to Not Just Soccer like I was told and paid $23 for a jersey.

    It doesn’t indicate exactly what the fee is used for but the cover letter does say “We will always be good stewards of our financial resources…”

    I’m not saying it’s the school’s fault. I’m saying it’s really expensive to play a sport in HPISD.

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  • September 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm
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    I paid the somewhat-painful A.C.E. fee last night and was confused by it as well. We have 6 cross-country meets in the season; the school does provide bus transportation for those participating, so probably a teensy bit of the $250 goes towards that. Does anyone out there know anymore about this fee? Is it assessed for any kid participating in the athletics (team) program? Do kids taking general PE have to pay it too? It seems a bit steep and the way they kind of sneak it in under the radar is…unpleasant, lol. It would be nice if there had been some sort of disclaimer during online registration that said, “FYI, additional athletic fees of $250 are due by 9/15/10.”

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  • September 10, 2010 at 7:11 pm
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    “Do kids taking general PE have to pay it too?”

    In my experience, no.

    I wrote a $300 check and then a $72/month check and got an email saying everyone was to sell $160 in raffle tickets or write a check for that amount. This was all a greater outlay than I expected for one course, taken to meet a graduation requirement. But I don’t doubt the fees are reasonable and necessary.

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  • September 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm
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    “Athletic commitment to excellence fee” sounds like a hokey euphemism for “required participation fee.” I’ve been told there are donated funds at the schools to pay for students who can’t afford athletic fees and such. Good that there’s that option, but not so good that a kid might have to reveal financial difficulties just to play ball on a school team.

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  • September 11, 2010 at 9:07 am
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    Just like tuition at private school doesn’t cover all expenses, our taxes don’t cover everything either. Even if the district had a lot more money, many of these fees would still exist.

    The $250 athletic fee was both unexpected and expensive. I sincerely hope that the funds go to help people who can’t pay. Maybe there is a way for the fee to be included in online registration if your child has signed up for athletics.

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  • September 11, 2010 at 3:34 pm
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    ACE fees do cover all teams transportation to all events. Maybe some transparency is in order, i.e. lets see the books on Ace fee revenue. Inflow, outflow, etc. The district is taking steps to take tighter financial control over all – Dr. Orr? Can you get us the facts? it just does not seem right to have the monies to build a gazillion dollar indoor facility, and then ask the 7th grade XC kid to fork over 250 in fees…. especially when they are required to take the course.
    Maybe we could go to yellow buses like Jesuit instead of the luxury coach… always embarrassing to pull up in another school district.

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  • September 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm
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    I think they are not included in online registration because you only pay the fee if your child makes the team. Many kids are in athletics but (1) do not make a team (ie vball, bball) or (2) don’t even try out for a team (why are they in athletics then? – good question).

    The ACE fee is paid once a year and covers primarily bus transportation, but probably also the coaches stiphen, jerseys, equipment, etc. The fee is the same if you play one sport or multiple sports.

    It should come as a surprise only to 7th grade parents that haven’t had older kids that play sports. Once you pay it in 7th grade, you know it’s coming the next year. They probably could do a better job of communicating but it was covered very well in the parent’s meeting for each of the sports. By that time though, your child has made the team and you are on the hook for it.

    For many, playing sports in the school system is dramatically cheaper than what we’ve paid in previous years. If you add up all the fees paid for coaches, select teams, leagues, jerseys, even Y fees, paying $250 for potentially multiple sports and multiple seasons is a great deal.

    GO SCOTS!

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  • September 12, 2010 at 9:59 am
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    I’m glad that you are questioning this. The community should demand greater transparency of the district. Look at what some of the consultants get paid.

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  • September 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm
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    I’m wondering if my son is in the most expensive sport. The fall crew fees are $1430.00 which includes motorcoach transportation to two out of town regatta’s, lodging and all meals at 3 out o town regatta’s, and the fee’s for daily participation thru December. There’s a manditory uni to buy for $82, and airfare to one regatta for $230 – so $1742 for the 1st 1/2 of the year. Spring will probably be a little less, with no uni or airfare, but one more bus so around $1500 I’d guess for Spring (January – May) It is the rare sport that is year round, August thru May, and probably more travel than the others. The school doesn’t pay the coaches, our dues do, and practice is M-Th & Sat the entire school year – plus the 8 or 9 whole weekend regatta’s a year so that’s a lot of coaching. But it’s expensive, isn’t it?

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  • September 13, 2010 at 9:18 am
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    kmom— isn’t crew a “club” sport and not a school run U.I.L. sport?
    Look on the bright side, you don’t have to pay the $250. ACE fee.

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  • September 13, 2010 at 11:43 am
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    @B, thanks for the explanation. I do remember last year that we paid only after our child made the team.

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  • September 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm
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    aceparent – no child is required to participate in a team sport in 7th or 8th grade. They are required to have a PE class but it does not have to be athletics (which does not require an ACE fee). The ACE fee is only paid by those that choose to try out and make a team that competes outside of school hours.

    I think one reason the district does not opt for the yellow buses is that most (or all) of the away games for 7/8 are in McKinney, Sherman and Denison. That would not be a pleasant trip to make with 150+ kids and no restroom facilities on the bus. If we were travelling to Jesuit or somewhere else equally close, the yellow bus would probably be fine.

    kmom – Crew and LAX are club sports, not UIL school sports. Therefore, they are privately funded. However, those teams also have the ability to spend whatever they want, with no UIL restrictions. That’s probably why Crew travels to compete in the best regattas and LAX competes along the East Coast against the best teams. Those decisions are made entirely by the club/parents.

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  • September 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm
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    Here’s the deal on buses. Basically, we are not able to rent school buses for any trips that are M-F. Our weekday trips usually start at 4:30 or earlier and the buses are in use by their school districts. That leaves us no choice but the private coaches. On Sat, the baseball teams are on school buses.

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  • September 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm
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    I’m not complaining at all. Crew is the most wonderful organization we’ve ever had a kid participate in – the coaches, the kids, the other parents – I don’t really have a single complaint. I understand we’re paying for every little thing – it’s just pricey is all. Everything they do is 1st class, they take amazing care of our kids both daily at practices, and on the road 8 or 9 weekends a year. If you are a parent of a pre-high schooler you should consider it – for boys and girls, for smaller kids as well as large – they always need coxswains, my son’s coxswain is a 86 lb young man!

    Crew advertisement over.

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  • September 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm
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    What about the strength and conditioning workouts that are by outside paid coaches, but ‘required’ by the varsity coaches? Is that for real? I got an email that I had to spend $450 for a total of 38 “events” outside of the offseason school program. But mostly they are at the school. Any advice?

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  • September 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm
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    I am surprised by all the pain being felt and complaining over ACE fees and where tax money is spent while nobody has mentioned the new indoor “practice” facility. Although I surmise the construction was funded via private donations, I find it obscene given the current economy and financial challenges many fanilies are currently facing throughout our country. I took a minute to look inside the facility sometime mid August while the finishing touches were being applied by 2 or 3 workers. The air conditioning was blowing like a jet engine and it was literally cold inside. Very difficult to plead poor when you build and operate this type of practice facility for sports that should be played outdoors. What sort of message does this send? Are our kids so entitled not to be exposed to the elements? Heaven forbid HP kids have to step on real dirt or grass, be hot, cold or wet.

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  • September 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm
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    R U Kidding,

    Uh, the facility is not air conditioned so I doubt it was blowing like a jet engine or even remotely cold. Bond election funded it, too. Kids played a scrimmage against Jesuit a few weeks ago, and, I have to admit, I’ve seen nicer, larger facilities in other districts. If you’re going to lecture, make sure you don’t tell falsehoods during your rant.

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  • September 14, 2010 at 6:33 pm
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    @R U Kidding – I thought there was no a/c, just fans in the new practice facility. I’ve heard the turf on the outside field can reach 140 degrees on hot days, and nobody needs to be practicing on that.

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  • September 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm
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    Umm.. RU… I mentioned the facility.
    Jet engine sound was the giant fans…

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