Fusing fees discussed in District 86

To reduce year-to-year fluctuations in the student registration fee, Hinsdale High School District 86 officials have proposed instituting a comprehensive registration fee that consolidates individual charges into one universal amount.

The administration is proposing a $475 comprehensive fee for the 2024-25 school year that would cover textbook purchases, course supplies, academic field trips, student ID, PE uniforms, graduation fees and technology fees. In presenting the concept at District 86 board’s Feb. 8 meeting, Chief Information Officer Keith Bockwoldt told board members that current registration costs range from $350 for freshman to upwards of $700 for upperclassmen, and does not include book costs.

“We feel that this is going to be a very streamlined process for parents and students to be able to get their course books, register and have a more comprehensive registration fee,” Bockwoldt stated. “We feel that, as we looked at this, this really is going to be a cost-effective way for parents to be able to connect with the district and have a reasonably priced fee for registration.

“There are man labor hours that are saved by going to one comprehensive fee, as well,” he added.

Staying under the $500 mark was important, he added. The fee will be reviewed annually by the board’s finance committee, which will make a recommendation to the board.

Bockwoldt said because the one-fee plan involves the district ordering directly from publishers in bulk, pricing will be more competitive than if purchased through third-party vendors, as has been the practice. The growing availability of electronic resources, often a fraction of the hard-copy cost, will be advantageous, as well.

“The kids are rostered, they’re able to go to a site, just log in and have access to that (electronic) book on day 1,” he reported.

District 86 Chief Financial Officer Josh Stephenson said the motivating purpose behind the one-fee approach is ease of use.

“The district’s not looking to increase any revenue from the change, just create a simpler process for the parents, students and the district as a whole,” Stephenson said.

Costs for clubs, athletic participation, driver’s education and activity passes would not be included.

Board member Peggy James expressed support of the comprehensive fee but said she’d like activity passes to be included to promote student attendance at shows and sporting events.

Board President Cat Greenspon asked if families that want to utilize hand-me-down books can opt out of paying the fee.

Bockwoldt said allowing opt outs would undermine the plan.

“We’re going to be right back where we were before,” he replied. “That’s why we have the comprehensive fee and they would just get a new textbook each year.”

The board will vote on whether to approve the comprehensive fee at its meeting Thursday, Feb. 22.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean