SYCAMORE – Sycamore School District 427 officials proposed changes to a handful of student fees for the next school year, which could go into effect pending a School Board vote expected in April.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Nicole Stuckert asked Sycamore school district’s board to consider increasing a few fees while also eliminating one all together.
The student fee for Sycamore High School Agriculture classes would be increased by $10, from $50 to $60; extra high school graduation tickets (after the first five free tickets given to students) would see a 100% increase, rising from $5 to $10 and replacement student IDs would increase from $2 to $5.
At the same time, the $40 student fee for Sycamore High School’s technology help class would be eliminated.
“I think they’re reasonable, you know especially at the rate of inflation,” board President Jim Dombek said.
During the board meeting, Stuckert was asked by board member Micheal DeVito II what it would cost the district to cut all student fees, and if she ever saw fees going down.
Stuckert said the district currently brings in about $500,000 through instructional fees and eliminating them would cause ramifications throughout the budget.
“We bring in about half a million dollars with instructional fees, which doesn’t sound like a ton of money in our overall budget, but if you lost a half a million dollars, that equates to a lot of expenditures that I guess we’d have to look at. Thinking from a staffing perspective, because that’s our largest expenditure, so if we were to eliminate those instructional fees I think that would be detrimental to our budget overall,” Stuckert said. “I just think with the cost of everything going up, I don’t ever see those going down.”
The fee increases wouldn’t necessarily adversely affect the most financially disadvantaged families in the Sycamore school district because the about 850 students who qualify for free lunches also have their instructional fees waived.
Students who have a reduced lunch cost, but don’t receive free lunches, still have to pay their student instructional fees in full; however, Stuckert said the district works with families who are experiencing difficulties.
“We do work with families who aren’t able to pay it all up front. We have numerous families that are on payment plans,” Stuckert said.
Stuckert’s proposal would also formally remove the ability for Sycamore students to buy a pass to use the district’s field house on the weekends. Officials said the pass was an option offered to students before the COVID-19 pandemic that won’t be able to make a comeback.
“Honestly, we were probably losing money on that scenario because we were hiring a field house worker and there weren’t enough people coming in and using it,” Stuckert said.