Hays USD 489 officials at Monday’s meeting expressed a desire to further reduce fees — if possible — for the 2018-19 school year.
At the beginning of this school year, a $150 kindergarten fee was eliminated due to the state’s decision to fund all-day kindergarten, and a workbook/materials fee was reduced from $135 to $90.
That fee includes textbooks, library books, classroom and athletic supplies, and was implemented to help offset general fund expenses.
The board’s final decisions regarding fees were made in late July, as the district was waiting on the Legislature’s decision regarding state funding levels. Superintendent John Thissen said he knows families were frustrated with the wait, but said the district could end up in a similar position this year.
“I think we’re in the same boat again,” Thissen said. “We were successful last year in what we said we wanted to do. The mode still hasn’t changed. We said that we were going to look at that for this coming year as well. But I think everybody knows that we’re a bit in the unknown at this point with what our budget is. So to work on this tonight is probably not practical.”
The issue will be discussed further when the district has a better projection of what next year’s finances might look like, he said.
School board members have expressed a desire to reduce the financial burden on parents as much as possible.
“I’m happy to see that we’re continuing to adjust those. … A perfect example was the kindergarten fee,” Board President Lance Bickle said. “We said we’d sunset that when the state started paying for it, and they did. I think as long as we continue to evaluate those fees and if there are adjustments we can make to bring them down.”
While Monday’s discussion was preliminary, Thissen noted it is possible the district’s meal charges might see a slight increase in the future.
“There’s great likelihood it will go up a little bit. It may be a nickel, it may be a dime,” he said. “Sometimes there are fees that do have to go up, and that’s one area. Just an awareness that, although we’re looking at cutting fees, there are some areas that there just may have to be an increase, and the meals may be one of those.”
In other business, the board:
• Approved purchase of three Suburbans and two route buses at a total cost of approximately $299,000.
• Heard the district’s fall enrollment numbers. The district has a total of 3,157 students and 3,091 FTE. Last year’s numbers were 3,175 total and 2,999 FTE.
• Met in executive session to discuss evaluations for the superintendent.
• Had two executive sessions to discuss labor union negotiations.
• Board member Greg Schwartz was absent.