Hays USD 489 raises student fees
By JUDY SHERARD
It likely will cost more to attend Hays USD 489 schools next year.
After non-renewing 16 teachers in a cost-cutting measure, the Hays USD 489 Board of Education turned its attention Monday night to increasing revenue and cutting busing costs.
The board voted 6-1 to increase the workbook/enrollment fee for one year to $160 per student, a $60 increase. Josh Waddell voted against the increase.
"I think we are escalating these fees extremely fast, extremely high," Waddell said. "We've got some other options here."
Superintendent Dean Katt recommended against charging a fee to attend kindergarten, also on the board's list to consider.
"I would rather see an across the board fee of some kind rather than just charge one group to do that," he said.
A fee for all-day kindergarten could discourage parents from sending their children, Katt said.
However, the board voted 4-3 to approve a $150 fee for kindergarten. Students who qualify for a reduced lunch fee will pay 50 percent of the cost or $75, and students who qualify for free lunches pay no fee.
BOE president Greg Schwartz, vice president James Leiker and Marty Patterson voted against the fee.
"I'll vote no on any kind of fee on kindergarten," Patterson said. "That's just me. It's that important to me that those kids go to all-day kindergarten, and if it held one kid back, I'd be shirking my responsibility."
The board voted 6-1 to increase activity fees for all students at Hays Middle School and Hays High School by $50. Middle school students will pay $62 and high school students $66 for the next school year.
Sarah Rankin voted against the increase.
"These are pretty steep increases when you have multiple children," Rankin said.
The vote to operate only rural routes transporting students who live more than 2.5 miles from school was unanimous. The mileage rate will be 17.5 cents per mile.
In total, the district could add approximately $300,000 to the budget.
Several board members indicated if the local option budget increase on the June mail ballot passes, some fee increases could be reduced.
The board hopes to use the increased revenue to reduce elementary class sizes by hiring three teachers.
Katt estimated to bring back the three elementary positions cut last month in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes, would cost approximately $150,000.
"I think the elementary positions are the most important thing we have right now with just the size of those classes," Schwartz said.
"Until we know all these unknowns, I don't want to come out and say we're going to bring back these teachers if these fees increase," Katt said.
Schwartz said district officials will continue to look for efficiencies that could offset the increased fees in the future.
The board entered into a 30-minute executive session for attorney client privilege and to discuss negotiations and non-elected personnel.
In other business:
* Rankin was sworn in as a new board member. She was selected by the board in April to fill Darren Schumacher's seat after Schumacher resigned.
* Approved a bid of $61,539 for three years from Josten's for the Hays High School yearbook.
* Approved a district organizational chart.
* Approved policy changes for the student activity fund management.
* Approved a district safety committee.
* The board will take sealed bids to purchase the 33rd Street property with the right to reject any and all bids. If the property is sold, the money will go to capital outlay
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* Accepted resignations from Whitney Dennis, Washington Elementary School speech-language pathologist; Alayna Pauly and Shelby Gottschalk, Wilson Elementary School after-school care; Gilbert Brungardt, bus driver; and Jordan Hamel, Hays High School para.
* Approved retirement for Nancy Stramel, Lincoln and Wilson Elementary Schools counselor; Rebecca Greer, Lincoln early childhood teacher; Jean Carter, Wilson teacher; Ron Berens, O'Loughlin Elementary School custodian; Frank Leo, Hays High teacher; and Brenda Evans, Lincoln para.
* Approved employment for David Barth, Hays Middle School custodian; and Josh Peterson, Hays High teacher.