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The price of a free education has risen in the past few years. As state legislators continue to take from education to balance the budget, the amount of school fees has increased.

Often parents are forced to purchase graphing calculators, physical education uniforms, ASB cards, and other school supplies they feel are mandatory. The bill is even higher when extracurricular activities are involved. Then parents are often on the hook for purchasing uniforms, camps, donations for coaches, and spirit packs. Two years ago, I wrote about the high cost of a free education.

Today, the San Diego County Grand Jury released a report which looked into those fees.

According to the report, parents, teachers, and boosters have been forced to pay for more items in order save programs or to pay for basic school supplies. At the same time, a lack of training has also made things harder for all involved to determine mandatory fees from discretionary ones.

"Parents are sometimes unclear as to which fees are mandatory and which are discretionary. There is no uniform set of standards throughout San Diego County school districts regarding mandatory and discretionary fees."

Things aren't so hot for teachers either who often have to dig into their own pockets for supplies. "Every past and present classroom teacher interviewed said that they contributed money from their own pocket. The range of contribution was a low of $200 annually to a high of $6000. In the lower grades (K-8), teachers are more likely to contribute out of their own pocket to the needs of their classrooms."

The grand jury report admitted the insufficient policy in regard to fees. The members of the grand jury believe the San Diego County Office of Educations should "develop and administer county-wide uniform regulations and training guidelines for schools regarding fee structure in conformity with State Law. Restructure budgets for this service from school districts and shift the cost to the San Diego County Office of Education."

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Comments

Visduh May 17, 2012 @ 8:10 p.m.

The school districts and the principals know far more than they are letting on about these fees. Until they are loudly challenged on some of the "requirements", many schools will blithely continue to soak the kids for just about anything they can get. Society at large expects schools, especially high schools, to be "all things to all people." But nobody wants to pay and many of the activities and sports are only tenuously connected to the educational mission of the schools. The answer may be that schools no longer attempt to cover as many bases as they now do. Will that happen? Unlikely.

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