District 214 waives waives registration fees for 2020-21 school year
The state's largest high school district is waiving registration fees for its 12,000 students this summer amid ongoing economic disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
Northwest Suburban High School District 214 families would have been expected to pay a $425 registration fee per student, covering costs like textbook rentals and other instructional materials.
But the school board and administration decided to waive the fee while economic uncertainty in the community remains.
"We understand that COVID-19 has impacted a lot of our families financially, and we just felt like it was the right thing to do for this year," said Superintendent Dave Schuler.
The school board voted on the annual appropriation of school fees during the onset of the pandemic in February, only to take it back four months later.
The fees would have accounted for an estimated $3.7 million in revenue for the district, but officials say they have identified cost savings in decreased utilities, travel and substitute teachers to offset that loss.
Beyond materials, the fees cover things like digital learning, an iPad Protection Plan, school calendars, a physical education shirt and lock, a pass to regular season home activities and school newspaper costs.
The school board also agreed to suspend the $65 co-curricular participation fee and $350 fee for the behind-the-wheel portion of driver's education, until further determinations can be made about how those activities will be phased back in and structured under state guidelines and directives.
Still in place is the $190 parking lot fee and a $675 bus transportation fee for students living less than 1½ miles from school.
Some parents have said they are still able to pay the registration fee, but because the online registration system doesn't allow only some to pay, district officials are encouraging those with the means to donate to District 214 Education Foundation's #214Cares fund. The fund has raised more than $90,000 since its launch in March to support district families who have had trouble meeting basic living expenses.
It's still unknown if students will be back in school buildings for in-person classes in the fall, though Schuler has suggested there may be a hybrid approach where some students are in school and others are at home taking classes online. Final plans are expected in July.