Archive for Sunday, September 10, 2006

Superintendent wants to phase out most fees

September 10, 2006


Supt. Randy Weseman has some good news for parents of students in the Lawrence school district who feel burdened by the hodgepodge of school fees they have to pay each August.

"I'm actually interested myself in looking at a multiyear process that would actually eliminate, if not all of them, then pretty close to all the fees," Weseman said.

He wants to do it without eliminating any of the programs that the fees now fund, ranging from riding the bus to playing sports.

Weseman will bring up a plan at Monday night's school board meeting to roll the $1 million-plus raised by fees into the district's regular budget.

The meeting will start at 7 p.m. in the district service center, 110 McDonald Drive.

"We have an obligation to this community to try to look at ways to try to reduce the kind of money that parents have to come up with in August every year," he said. "It's a hardship for families."

Parents have met with the school board several times to discuss the high fees.

"I'm looking at a major reduction in our pay-to-ride busing policy," Weseman said. "Right now, if you have three to four kids, you could be paying pretty close to $1,000."

He said he was interested in changing the bus fees, about $300 a year now, so that parents might pay the full fee for the first rider, a reduced amount for the second rider and no fee for other riders in the family.

"I'm looking at almost all fees, aside from this pay-to-ride deal, and for that I'm looking at a significant reduction," he said.

He said his plan also would eliminate the "pay-to-play" sports fee, which costs $25 at the junior high level and $50 for high school sports.

His plan won't cut everything. Students would still have to pay for their yearbooks.

"I'm looking at an elimination or a reduction of all these little incidental fees that exist from K to 12," he said.

Weseman said about 30 percent of the district's families qualified for free or reduced lunches and had their fees waived.

Another 20 percent of parents default on their fees - they just don't pay, Weseman said.

"There's really nothing you can do about that," he said. "The law says you can't hold them out of school until they pay fees. Because the reality is, you're supposed to get a free public education."

That leaves about 50 percent of parents who pay all or most of the fees, he said.

The district is supposed to be collecting close to $2.4 million, he said, but it actually is collecting only about $1.3 million.

He's going to suggest a four-year plan to reduce that $1.3 million to zero.

The board might have to come up with about $250,000 next year to get the rollback plan moving, he said.

"We owe this community this. I believe it's a responsible thing to do to look at ways to reduce fees that we charge to people who are out there paying taxes anyway," he said.


cowboy 11 years, 8 months ago

my kids are now all out of school but this is the right thing to do , Get er done Randy !

blessed3x 11 years, 8 months ago

No mention of how he plans to come up with this money, I see. I guess if I had the power to increase my budge on a whim by raising property taxes, I'd probably do it to. I'm all for reducing the fees, they are much to high, but saying your going to do it and doing it without going back to the taxpayers yet again are two totally different things.

meburr 11 years, 8 months ago

I agree the fees are all too high. Not one word in the article about the $250 a month fee for the proposed all day kindergarten ("free public education") being cut?? But my jr high football player can play for free! Wow, what a deal!

monkeyhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

Half of the children attending Lawrence public schools are on "full scholarship"?

"We owe this community this. I believe it's a responsible thing to do to look at ways to reduce fees that we charge to people who are out there paying taxes anyway," he said.

Yeah, sock it to the rest of the childless taxpayers. Be sure to raise the mill levy as much and as often as you can. Or, better yet, go after the deadbeats.

Moderateguy 11 years, 8 months ago

Actually, fees seem to be a pretty reasonable way to assign expense to me. Those people who do not use the service are not charged. What a concept. The bond issue passed, my property taxes went up. They raise the mill levy, my property tax went up. We don't even have a child in school. I have no real problem with paying for the basics as part of my property tax, but the cost of the extras should be bourne in some part by those that use them.

lelly 11 years, 8 months ago

I think fees for extra curriculars are fine. But fees for going to school should be abolished. Pay to ride the bus (on a sliding scale) is fine too. It is a parent's responsibility to feed, clothe and transport their kiddo.

hockmano 11 years, 8 months ago

I had never heard of paying to ride the school bus until I moved to Lawrence. Ridiculous! This just puts an extra burden on parents!Public school should have minimal fees. That's why it's called PUBLIC shool.

greyhawk 11 years, 8 months ago

why dont we just cut the teachers salaries?

Dayna Lee 11 years, 8 months ago

I have always enjoyed the "yard sale". Maybe the school could do big yard sale and raise funds that way. We did one at LHS when I was there for some of the groups to raise $.

stbaker 11 years, 8 months ago

I think that those of you who cry "I don't even have any kids!! Why should I have to pay?" I'm very confident that you were once a kid in your lifetime, and someone else's taxes paid for your public education...And if in fact you were privilaged enough to go to private school, then consider yourself again rewarded, because most private schools receive large portions of their budgets from endowments, alumnus, etc...Many of which do not have children.

If in fact parents had to pay for their children's education in full, millions of children in our country would go through life uneducated. Crime would skyrocket, it would end up costing us more in the long run because the entire economy would falter based on decreased productivity within business, increased demand for welfare...the scenario goes on and on. So those of you who are cranky for having to pay taxes so that all children in this country have an opportunity to receive an education - shame on you.

dw 11 years, 8 months ago

stbaker...I went to private schools and I am not priviledged. I am amazed how so many people can drive a new car, go on a long summer vacation, have an LCD TV, but that can't afford a few bucks to pay for their kids education. Why do you people have children in the first place? I am so sick of certain people blaming the problems of society on everyone else. I don't think you need to look any further than in the mirror. You people need to start taking responsibility for yourself and yes, actually cough up a few bucks for education.

Regarding your comment on the only priveledged can go to private schools. I went to private schools and I send my kids to a private school and we are not millionaires, no we sacrifice and give up many of the luxuries you folks that get a free education can have. We made a choice, the right choice to take an interest in our kids education and make the sacrifice for them to attend private schools. I am amazed how our private catholic schools can educate a student at a fraction of the cost and provide a far superior education than the Lawrence public or any public school ever will.

So when you are complaining about having to pay a few bucks to educate your kid, remember the old saying, something for nothing and nothing is what you get.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 8 months ago

Ummmm, so what is it about us that we complain about the usurious nature of these fees and blame the Superintendent (even if the Board is more responsible) but when he announces an intent to roll them back, well, we complain about him some more instead of praising him for being responsive to our demands? It certainly isn't possible that we're giving him no fair chance. No, certainly that isn't possible.

philosocky 11 years, 8 months ago


"I'm very confident that you were once a kid in your lifetime, and someone else's taxes paid for your public education."

And your point is? If my parents chose to have me, my parents should have been prepared to bear the full cost of raising me to adulthood - including education. My parents were not forced to have me to survive; I was, like all children, a luxury item.

"If in fact parents had to pay for their children's education in full, millions of children in our country would go through life uneducated. [ . . . ] So those of you who are cranky for having to pay taxes so that all children in this country have an opportunity to receive an education - shame on you."

Let's review some basic logic, shall we?

1) If parents are not paying for their children's education in full, 2) Then the remainder of their children's education is coming from Someone Else. 3) By definition, the Someone Else remaining, when you remove parents, is the group of non-parents. 4) Therefore, you are saying that if parents couldn't pass some portion of the cost along to non-parents, they could never afford to educate their children.

Wow, I wish I could pass along some of my luxury expenses to people who don't choose to have them! I love my computer, but it's properly considered a luxury item; perhaps the government should start a new property tax for computers, assessed on everyone in the community, to subsidize the cost of buying and upgrading a computer. If you don't choose to buy a computer - too bad, you still have to pay the 50-mill tax. If people start buying multiple computers, or want higher quality service plans, thus driving the tax up, the computer-less get squeezed even harder since they're taking a net financial loss.

So, shame on me for being upset that other people get to steal my money to service their ends, rather than perhaps being forced to cut back on having luxury items (i.e., children) they can't afford?

The dismantling of public education can't possibly come soon enough.

stbaker 11 years, 8 months ago

Let's not forget that our taxes are not only funding public elementary/secondary schools. They are also funding State Universities and colleges. I would again be curious as to how many people complaining received their education at a state university/college.

I'm not saying that parents shouldn't have to pay anything for their child's education. I think that it is to be expected. Philosocky: I couldn't agree with you more that children are a luxury item. However not everyone exercises caution when conceiving them or raising them and fortunately we live in a country where our tax system and government make education available to all children living in our society.

And lastly, DW: I didn't say only the privileged go to private school, I said it was a privilege to go to private school. The majority of the communities in Kansas do not have private schools, so unless parents want to commute their children to the nearest community with private school option, it is not a realistic option. You seem quick to judge my lifestyle, unless it was a grammatical error, and in fact you know nothing about me. Again, I am in total agreement with you on the innappropriate prioritization that some parents have regarding their lifestyles and money spending habits. I believe 100% that education is far more important than taking the family to DisneyWorld for a week, or having 5 TVs with 200 channels in every room of the house, etc. But for some people, it is not a matter of whether they can buy that new $40,000 SUV vs. paying for their 2nd grader to go to school, it is a matter of being able to buy groceries and paying the rent/mortgage vs. being able to send their child to school.

I would love to see each household and each person be able to afford their lifestyles without the help of the government, however that is not ever going to happen. And if we took away some of the tax funded programs that are currently available, such as public education and accessible health care to children whose parents cannot afford it, we would be a third world country.

blacksheep 11 years, 8 months ago

I'm a parent and don't mind paying REASONABLE school fees and we have two TVs (gasp, such luxury) sorry that I may want to watch something other than football or MTV when I get a chance to watch some TV, a commuter car to get to work of all things that holds two people comfortably and four nicely if the other two don't have legs, which we used for a year until we could afford a family vehicle to hold everyone and maybe even a friend and let me get to work as well. I am so sorry that I have not been frugal enough with my money and spent it on so many luxury items such as food, house payments, (modest), college loan payments (no-trad students), gas for the car to get to work, and our big vacation trip to Worlds of Fun one day out of the year!!! WOW!! I didn't realize I was whining over nothing when the school fees basically tripled in one year. I have two at the Jr./Sr. high level and one in elementary. They are only taking basic courses- no sports/cheer and I still have a bill $550. Luckily when we bought our house it was in walking distance of the elementary and Jr. high. I am also lucky enough that we live close enough for my kids to either bike 1 1/2 miles to school or take the "T" which will cost me 1/4 of the bill IF my child rides it every single day. Versus $300 for ONE child to ride the bus here. While I don't mind paying for transport, I know for a fact when my parents paid for me to ride the bus the fee was no where near this high, even adjusting for inflation.

You seem to be quite hostile to educating the people who will one day vote on whether or not to give assistance to you in your older years. Or let me guess the elderly should shut up and get a job as well to support themselves after paying into the system for years. I bet you B**** about funding medicare, medicade and anything else that keep people from deciding whether or not to buy meds for the month or pay utilities. Most of the people who are eligable now went through the 30's and 40's and know how to make choices and probably (gasp) saved money for retirement, just didn't realize they needed twice the amount they saved over time. Oh, and by the way, yes, they did sock money away; but the medical bills after the heart attack ate into a portion of that as well and they didn't want to take handouts because they have been self-sufficient all their lives.

Remember you reap what you sow. If you want to be a cheap, cheap returns are what you are going to get. I pay my taxes too. So if your taxes go up so do mine!!! And guess what taxes always increase over time!! As society becomes more modern and older (by that I mean the average age of the US citizen increases) more items must be funded. Remember taxes fund not only schools, but roads, firemen, police, light posts, post offices, local and not so elected officials.

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