As parents and students prepare for the start of the 2018-19 school year, many families are closely examining the required registration fees.
Much has been made in recent months about increasing fees, especially in SD308, where the district is trying to rein in a deficit budget, but a look at fees across Kendall County and Sandwich shows consistently similar numbers – with a few exceptions.
When looking strictly at student registration fees, meaning the dollar amount set by the district to enroll a student, fees generally fall in line, differing by less than $50 in most cases.
In Yorkville CUSD 115, the cost of early childhood education is $58, which covers services like walk-in speech and hearing therapy; in Sandwich CUSD 430, the cost of early childhood is $75. However, the outlier in that area is SD308, which recently approved an increase in tuition fees at Brokaw Early Learning Center in Oswego, bringing the cost to $320 a month for nine months.
For kindergarten, the numbers show the same consistency, thanks to the decision to group half-day kindergarten under the umbrella of kindergarten.
Over in Newark, the cost of kindergarten is $105, while it’s $120 in Sandwich. Plano CUSD 88 also offers kindergarten for $120, while Yorkville comes in at a cost of $70. Plano, Sandwich and Newark also differ from Yorkville and Oswego by providing the same cost for kindergarten registration as other elementary-school grades. SD308 again stands alone, with a separate cost of $60 for half-day kindergarten – the lowest in the county. Full-day kindergarten, another fee increased by the district’s recent budget cuts, went up to $300, the most expensive in the county.
In districts across the county and Sandwich, elementary school registration fees are mostly the same. SD308, Plano and Sandwich each cost $120, while Yorkville and Sandwich divide up their grades differently. For grades one through three, Yorkville charges $110; it's $144 for grades four and five. In Newark, the cost is $105 for first- through fourth-graders, and $130 for fifth-graders.
In junior high, numbers cover about a $60 window, with Newark coming in at the lowest with $130. Yorkville, which separates the grade six fee from that for grades seven and eight, costs $143 for grade six and $182 for grades seven and eight. Plano also splits grade costs, with sixth grade at $120, and seventh and eighth grades at $160. Sandwich is chalked up as the highest in the area, with a cost of $195, while SD308 falls in the middle ground at $165.
Excluding course fees, the costs to register students in high school are the most similar, with a difference of only $10 between the highest and lowest fees. SD308 and Yorkville are the lowest, both coming in at $195, while both Newark and Plano cost $200. Sandwich is – barely – the highest at $205.
While student registration fees are applicable to all students in all districts, some fees – class fees, activity fees, club fees and intramural fees – are additional costs that vary from district to district. One fee, representative across all districts, is driver’s education. The cost of driver’s education is one of the most varied fees. SD308 is currently the highest at $400. Yorkville follows at $315, Plano and Sandwich at $250, and Newark is the lowest at $150.
Athletic fees also cover a wide range across the districts. As the numbers for junior highs are not readily available for some areas, high school fees are easier to compare. Again, SD308 comes in at the highest at $300 per student per sport, thanks to decisions made as part of the district’s recent budget cuts and revenue increases. All other districts fall drastically below SD308, with Yorkville, Sandwich and Plano at $80 per student per sport, while Newark costs only $50 per sport, with the exception of golf at $100.
The change to SD308's athletic fees raised strong concerns among coaches, student athletes, and parents, who expressed their fears before the Board of Education at a meeting in February. Former Oswego High School football coach Karl Hoinkes told the board, “High school sports should not be a game just for people who are financially well-off. ... What we’re doing is we’re going to exclude quite a few people. I know the bottom line is the bottom line, but the bottom line is really our kids.”
“We are a community of middle-class families, with both parents working full-time jobs,” parent Maureen Ford said. “Imposing a fee of that much, that quickly, is going to be impossible for our families and my family to do.”
“What you actually have done with this fee is you are cutting athletics,” she said. “You are doing it, and I ask all of you to take a moment to step back, and realize what you’ve done, and see the ramifications of what this increase could do, not only to the families and the students, but the people we employ in this district.”