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Article updated: 11/28/2012 4:48 PM

Kaneland to use state program to collect on delinquent fees

By Susan Sarkauskas

People who owe the Kaneland school district payment of their children's fees might end up paying them out of state lottery winnings.

Or their state income tax refunds, or even a state paycheck.

The Kaneland school board this week decided to join the state comptroller's Local Debt Recovery Program.

The program deducts money owed to local governments from state payments due to residents, including commercial payments and retirement checks.

The first request Kaneland will submit is for more than $35,000 in delinquent fees from the 2011-12 school year, said Julie-Ann Fuchs, the district's assistant superintendent for business.

Besides whatever fees they owe to the district, the debtors will also be charged a $15 fee that goes to the state.

School board member Tony Valente said he wanted to ensure there is a hearing available to people to dispute the charges, and that the district works with people who can't afford the fees due to poverty, such as from unemployment.

The state program gives people 60 days notice to protest the charges. And Fuchs said the district does work with people who are having economic difficulties. People can request income based fee waivers, available to students who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. The district also lets people pay fees on a monthly installment plan, Fuchs said.

"There is a significant increase in waivers this year," Fuchs said. The number of students deemed low income, meaning they qualify for lunch aid, rose to 14.3 percent in the spring. In 2007, 5.6 percent of students were considered to be low income.

The district has used collection agencies in the past, but found them ineffective, according to a memo from Fuchs to the board. And the state program is free to the district.

Senior Circuit Breaker, Secretary of State refunds, and Illinois Pre-Paid Tuition Trust Fund payments are exempt from the debt recovery program.

And if somebody owes money to more than one entity, there is a pecking order for payments: state and federal government first, then everybody else on a first-come, first-served basis.

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