The New Trier High School Board will be faced with philosophical questions about public education as it reevaluates how the district charges students for fees.
District 203 Superintendent Linda Yonke posed some of those questions to the School Board Monday.
“Do we want to increase revenue … or be revenue neutral?” Yonke asked. “Do we want to reduce the cost of books for all students in exchange for an increase somewhere else?”
Each New Trier student currently pays a total of $105 in fees, which includes a flat $25 fee for athletics and $20 for activities, plus a $15 technology fee, $12 for kinetic wellness programs and lesser amounts for a family directory, class dues, insurance and identification card.
Board members pointed out that not all students participate in sports and not all sports programs cost the same to operate. Should the district better align the actual cost with the fee charged to the student who participates, is one of the decisions the School Board will have to make.
“Is it more expensive to play on the varsity football team than the freshman football team?” Board member Alan Dolinko questioned, as an example.
By charging participants for specific programs, such as performing arts and athletics, the district perhaps could subsidize the cost of textbooks, “which supports everybody,” Dolinko said.
Students pay hundreds of dollars each year for their textbooks. In addition, some students are charged material fees for particular classes, such as science lab and drivers education.
“We as a board had a lot of feedback from parents about the (financial) burden of having to pay for the cost of textbooks,” Dolinko said.
School Board President John Myefski said parents already are familiar with athletic and other program fees because the elementary school districts which send their students to New Trier charge them.
“I do believe there is an opportunity to redistribute how people pay,” board member F. Malcolm Harris said. And that will raise the issue, “where do you draw the line between what the public taxpayer should provide” and what individual participants should be charged.
Yonke said the administration will collect more information for the board, including data on the cost of textbooks, the operating costs for specific programs, what fees are paid now and where does that money go, and “legally, what is a public education?”