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Higher fees in works for D-155

CRYSTAL LAKE – It would cost more to attend Community High School District 155 in the fall under a plan to raise most student fees.

The district, which has four high schools in Crystal Lake and Cary, charges 183 individual course fees to students, with the average student paying $146 per school year for courses. A proposal discussed by the finance committee Wednesday would eliminate the individual fees in favor of a higher flat fee – $175 per student per year

The higher fee would include some perks that previously were optional or paid for separately, such as an activity ticket, lock and gym uniform. But it would not include fees for yearbooks, driver education, advanced placement exams, parking and graduation apparel. Those items would remain separate.

In addition, administrators recommended higher fees for driver education and student parking. Driver education fees would go to $100 from $65, and student parking fees would go to $100 from $75.

Administrators had asked for even higher fees, but committee members balked.

Higher fees are needed to cover district expenses for textbooks, course materials, student IDs and other items, Business and Finance Director Joe Murphy said.

Raising parking fees, he said, would help offset the cost of maintaining the district’s 1,581 parking spaces on 27.7 acres of pavement. Estimates show upkeep on parking lots will cost between $2.2 million and $3.5 million over the next 10 years.

A survey of student fees at other area high schools put the average cost for a junior taking science, math, English, history, Spanish, physical education and an elective, and playing two sports, at $406.

By comparison, the proposed $175 flat fee at District 155 may seem cheap.

But board member Gary Oberg said that average elsewhere was skewed because it included affluent districts such as Lake Forest and New Trier.

A junior taking the same courses and playing the same sports at Lake Forest High School District 115 would be charged $836 to register. And New Trier High School District 203 charges $970 annually for student parking.

There is an upside to the streamlining student fees, administrators said. It would be easier for parents to estimate how much registration would cost. A flat fee instead of 183 individual course fees would take much of the confusion out of the process, they said.

The finance committee didn’t make a decision on the fees Wednesday. But the proposal could be brought before the full board for a vote later this month.

School districts throughout the county are considering student fee hikes. A committee in Crystal Lake District 47 this week largely rejected a plan to raise student fees, although a final decision wasn’t made.

Woodstock District 200 also is reviewing student fees. Administrators there want to raise a handful of student fees to be more in line with other districts.

The District 200 school board are considering higher fees and other changes after projections showed a $2.67 million budget shortfall. Proposed cost-saving measures include staff cuts, administrator pay freezes and across-the-board budget reductions at every school building. The school board is to vote on these issues at a meeting Tuesday.

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