District 220 postpones to next year decision on refunding school fees

  • Board members for Barrington Area Unit District 220, including board president Penny Kazmier, left, decided to wait until next year to decide about refunding school fees. Superintendent Brian Harris is to the right.

    Board members for Barrington Area Unit District 220, including board president Penny Kazmier, left, decided to wait until next year to decide about refunding school fees. Superintendent Brian Harris is to the right. photo courtesy of Barrington Area Unit District 220

 
 
Updated 9/3/2020 3:58 PM

Families in Barrington Area Unit District 220 will have to wait until next year to find out whether they will be refunded any school fees for this year.

The school board discussed that Tuesday night after board members said they received inquiries from parents. Some school districts, like nearby Northwest Suburban High School District 214, have waived registration fees for the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

District 220 board members said they empathize with families who are struggling economically during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they agreed to Superintendent Brian Harris' suggestion to revisit the topic in January, because the district doesn't yet have a clear picture of when students will start using more services.

Last spring, the district refunded fees for services not provided, including full-day kindergarten, transportation -- paid by students who live less than 1.5 miles from school, for example -- and student parking at Barrington High School. This year, the district hasn't charged those fees when the services are not used, district officials said.

Board members briefly talked about the option of refunding 25% of registration fees -- since students will be doing remote learning until at least Oct. 16 -- and refunding technology fees.

Registration fees are $73 for kindergarten, $149 for grades 1 through 4, $172 for grade 5, $279 for grades 6 through 8, $390 for high school freshmen and $375 for sophomores to seniors. That amounts to $1,682,616 projected for the 2020-21 school year, according to district documents.

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Registration fees pay for materials and student IDs, which students need to have to enter school buildings for testing, to pick up materials and more, board president Penny Kazmier said.

Technology fees are $28 for pre-K and kindergarten, $90 for elementary and middle school, and $110 for high school. However, students are using technology "more than ever," board member Angela Wilcox said.

Students eligible for free or reduced lunch under federal guidelines are eligible for fee waivers or reductions, district officials also said.

Altogether, the district's tentative budget includes $3,764,140 in student fee revenues, including technology at $575,000, full-day kindergarten at $1,085,000, outdoor education at $119,000, uniforms/grade-specific materials at $25,884, course-specific fees at $138,500, and parking at $138,140.

Overall, the budget projects just a little over $155 million in expenses this year with $1 million in cuts, such as not filling positions, due to COVID-19.

Officials initially projected a surplus of $408,398, but that's now less than $260,000 after the state notified of a drop in revenues from corporate personal property replacement taxes, district officials said.

No residents spoke at a public hearing on the budget Tuesday night; the board is expected to adopt the final budget at its next meeting Sept. 15. Harris warned budget projections likely will change as the school year moves along.

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