Palatine Township District 15 to check students' residency more often
Palatine Township Elementary School District 15 will be checking the residency of more students starting next year to determine if they live within the district's boundaries.
The district currently doesn't require families to annually verify where they live, which is "a fairly atypical practice," according to Superintendent Laurie Heinz, who discussed the policy change during a school board meeting last week.
Most area districts require families to reverify each year, officials said. District 15 only checks families' residency when students begin kindergarten or are new to the district.
"If you register somebody when they're (5 years old), they stick with us all the way through eighth grade," Heinz said.
Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, in addition to incoming kindergartners and new students, the district will require families of students entering fourth and seventh grades to provide documentation proving they live within its borders, which cover a 35-square-mile area that includes all or parts of seven municipalities.
Heinz said identifying families enrolled but not living in the district and paying taxes for the schools is a way to "contain costs" and potentially save money that could fund new initiatives. District 15 spends on average nearly $14,000 a year for each student.
"We want to make sure that if we're spending that type of money on 12,000 students, that every last one of them lives within our boundaries," Heinz said.
Following the 2021-22 school year, the board will look into reverifying residency for all students each year.
"We want to work out some of the kinks on a smaller scale before we decide if we're going to do it for everybody," Heinz said.
Chief School Business Official Diana McCluskey said the district is considering using software called CLEAR Batch ID, which will help identify families enrolled in one of its schools but not living in the district. The program allows the district to identify the last known address for all families enrolled, and can be set with an accuracy level of 80-90%.
"It gives you a list of people that, based on that percentage of accuracy, you have to look further into," McCluskey said.
The cost of using the residency verification system, to be managed by the business department, would be about $15,000 annually.
The district also be will raising student fees beginning next year. Fees have been mostly unchanged for the past seven years, as the cost of education -- and particularly Chromebooks and other technology for students -- has increased, McCluskey said.
The student fees for grades 1-6, currently $120, and grades 7-8, currently $135, will increase by $15 each of the next four years. The current $60 fee for kindergarten students will increase by $15 over each of the next two years.