District 204 increasing driver's education fees

  • Indian Prairie Unit District 204 will be increasing driver's education fees at its three high schools, including Neuqua Valley.

    Indian Prairie Unit District 204 will be increasing driver's education fees at its three high schools, including Neuqua Valley. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 1/12/2022 4:49 PM

Faced with a $1 million annual deficit in its driver's education department, Indian Prairie Unit District 204 will gradually raise its fees to students over the next five years.

Fees will rise from $350 this school year to an eventual amount of $425 in 2024-25. District officials justified the increase by saying fees have remained stable for more than a decade while costs have increased, and the fee increase still falls in line with surrounding school districts.

 

The school board this week approved the increase after a public hearing, which was required because the fee amount is greater than the state-allowed amount of $250. District 204 has received waivers from the state the last several years to charge $350.

"The state fully understands that there are many additional costs that come with offering the driver's education program, especially offering the behind-the-wheel component of driver's education," said Doug Eccarius, the district's deputy superintendent. "Because of this, it does allow for districts to increase the fees."

Eccarius said the district has kept its fee at $350 since 2010 even though costs have increased more than 33% in the last decade. He said the district brings in $196,000 in fee revenue and $140,000 with a state grant, but expenses of $1.4 million leave an annual deficit of about $1 million.

Expenses include salaries and benefits, repair and maintenance, supplies, license plate renewal fees, insurance and fuel.

Eccarius presented fee examples from eight surrounding school districts, showing Naperville Unit District 203 charges $400 while Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 charges $250. He said District 204 has the lowest operating costs among the eight comparable districts.

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Eccarius said private companies cost from $400 to more than $600.

"One of the districts up there that charges a similar amount that we currently do also has regular school registration fees of over $400 compared to ours of $195," Eccarius said. "So all of them are a little bit different."

Fees will rise to $375 in the 2022-23 school year, then to $400 the following year and remain at $425 from 2024-25 through 2026-27. Eligible students will continue to have the fees waived.

Through the next several years, the school board can direct the district not to impose an increase.

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