Waived during the pandemic, student fees reinstated in districts 211 and 214

The state's two largest high school districts will reinstate student fees next school year, ending a hiatus put in place during the pandemic.

Administrators of Arlington Heights-based Northwest Suburban High School District 214 and Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 proposed higher fees than what were ultimately approved by the school boards, who sought to soften the blow for families not used to paying anything the last four years.

District 214 will charge $350 per student — less than the pre-pandemic $420 fee recommended for reinstatement by administrators — while District 211 will charge $75, which is less than the $170 amount students paid years ago.

District 214 also will reduce charges for multiple students from the same family: $250 for a second student, $150 for a third, and no fee for any additional.

Such a fee structure was suggested by board members, who balked at the administration’s original recommendation earlier this month.

Lenny Walker

“I think $420 is a big sting when the neighboring districts are not that,” said board member Lenny Walker. “That’s a big number if you have more than one child coming in to District 214.”

In proposing to bring the fees back, district officials said operational costs have gone up, and a deficit position could be expected in the coming years. Reserves were used to cover the gap brought on by fee waivers.

The fees cover costs including textbook rentals, instructional materials, technology, clubs, speakers, assemblies, school calendars, a physical education shirt and lock, entry to regular season athletic events and the school newspaper. District 214 sunsetted its separate $65 athletic/co-curricular participation fee.

In neighboring District 211, board member Kim Cavill proposed the $75 fee as a “gentler on ramp,” and as the district still has a budget surplus.

Kim Cavill

The original $175 proposal felt “disrepectful of our families who have been used to now for four years paying no registration fee,” Cavill said.

District 211 board President Anna Klimkowicz

Board President Anna Klimkowicz was the lone board member to support the initial proposal, saying the amount of revenue the fees would generate — less than $2 million — is about equal to the cost to retain 13 social workers, psychologists and counselors hired with fed​eral pandemic funds that are due to expire.

District officials emphasized that the fees are used to directly offset the cost of classroom supplies.

The school boards approved the new fees at their meetings last Thursday. The fees are due during registration for the 2024-2025 school year.

· Daily Herald staff writer Eric Peterson contributed to this report.

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