The Rockford School Board tonight approved plans to eliminate most student fees for the 2020-2021 school year. Unlike previous years – including the current school year – students and their parent/guardian will not be required to pay fees next year for arts/music, athletics, lab fees or Advanced Placement exams.
High school students will, however, still be required to pay fees for some optional items: on-campus parking permits, driver education (behind-the-wheel training), athletic gate admission pass, credit recovery and summer school. Follow this link to see a fee breakdown for RPS 205, plus surrounding and comparable districts in Illinois.
“This is the right move for our students and families,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “If students want to take one or more Advanced Placement courses, cost shouldn’t be a barrier. The same goes for participation in band, orchestra, choir or drama, or playing a second or third sport. They’re not extras. We think they’re part of the school experience.”
Annual consumable/lab fees for the current school year cost a base of $75 for each elementary student, $80 for each middle school student, and $100 for each high school student. The annual amount collected for student fees is approximately $777,000. That revenue will be covered by an increase in the state’s new funding model, called Evidence-Based Funding.
Dropping these fees creates more equity for RPS 205 students. Only 31 percent of the district’s nearly 29,000 students were eligible to pay those fees. Within that segment of students, families’ ability to pay is widely varied. District leaders proposed the move with the idea that families’ state and property taxes should cover these core education experiences. The School Board in November approved a flax tax levy for the eighth consecutive year, dropping the tax rate below $7 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.