District 153 hires collection agency to recoup student fees

The District 153 school board agreed to hire a collection agency hoping it can recoup about $500,000 in outstanding debt.

The board will work with Rozlin Financial Group to collect unpaid student fees. Some families have failed to pay fees for years, according to Superintendent Scott McAlister, and now the students are going to graduate from James Hart School.

Fees range from $250 for the younger students at Willow School up to $345 for eighth graders at James Hart.  Fees cover books, a technology device provided to each student and tech insurance. James Hart students also pay $20 for a gym uniform.

“This is action for parents who have accrued fees, essentially over nine years,” McAlister told the board at its April 8 meeting.  He noted there is no incentive for parents to pay the fees, and “no ability for the district to redeem the cost.” He said the “half-million dollars is a significant percentage” to the district’s $25 million budget.

“We do make attempts” to collect the fees, and a staff member is assigned to contact families for payment, McAlister said, “but in cases where we’re not able to get payment, the recommendation is to use the agency.”

The board also approved a 10-cent increase for purchasing breakfast and lunch. Breakfast will be $2.45 and lunch will be $3.35 next school year.

The board also agreed to reinstate a policy requiring kindergarten students to present their health exams and immunizations records on the first day of school. Willow School administrators have been concerned that without the records staff is unaware of a student’s allergies and other immediate health needs. 

Updated health records are also required for sixth graders at James Hart School, but they have until Oct. 1 to provide their doctor’s report.

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