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Ladue School Board to Discuss Activity Fees

Required activity fees for students in the upcoming years can help the district with budget-cuts.

Updated at 2:10 p.m.: The headline of this article previously said the school board would discuss blanket activity fees. Blanket activity fees are illegal. The board will discusss charging fees for participation in specific activities.

Last year, some parents complained that students who were not involved in any after-school activity were charged a $50 fee for high school students and a $25 one for middle schoolers.

"For a first-year implementation, the process went well with very few complaints from parents or students," wrote Superintendent Marsha Chappelow in a letter to the board. "The problem with the fees came up near graduation time last spring when, as in past years, students were sent a letter listing the fees that they still needed to pay in order to participate in graduation activities. One parent challenged the legality of charging his student an activity fee of $50 since his student was not a participant in any school activities."

These blanket fees were identified by the school district’s 2010-11 Budget Task Force as a way to generate some revenue and offset budget cuts. The school board is set to review these fees tonight at their work session. 

In a 2012 Missouri Court of Appeals case, judges ruled that imposition of blanket fees to students that did not benefit from the activity was in violation of the Hancock Amendment, Chappelow wrote in her letter.

The district sent a letter to parents informing them that any parent who wished a refund from last year’s fee could contact the district to receive one. Chappelow said only a handful of parents opted to receive a refund.

In the letter to parents, Chappelow said there would be no mandatory activities fee for the year 2012-2013. The school board, however, will still discuss whether or not to have mandatory activity fees tonight at its monthly work session. 

“The Board requested that this be brought back this year to review what we are able to do with student fees in order to recoup some of our expenditures towards the costs of student activities,” Chappelow wrote in her memo to the board. “We can legally charge fees for MSHSAA activities for student participants.”

Some of the information to be reviewed tonight includes a survey of how other local and state school districts are charging activity fees.

The October 2012 survey, conducted by the district, asked 16 local districts and eight Missouri districts how they handled their fees. 

The only St. Louis-area districts that charged an activity fee were Lindbergh, Pattonville, Troy and Webster. Seven out of eight districts outside the St. Louis area also charged the fee.

You can read the survey here

Tell us in our comments: Would you support an activity fee for all students?

Ashley Schneider November 12, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I am a Ladue parent and am happy to pay an activity fee for the activities my children are involved in. However, I would not approve of a blanket activity fee. Why should someone else pay for my child's activities and why should I pay for someone else's child.
PaulRevere November 12, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Activity fees? Ashley says, "Why should someone else pay for his child's activities and why should (he) pay for someone else's child" So I would ask "Why should I pay for Ashley's child's education , if my child DOES NOT even attend that school? Yet, that is exactly what Ashley's and My Real Estate taxes and Auto Personal Property taxes pay for. You see Ashley, you already Paid for that activity fee for someone else's outside activities. All the school need do is increase your Real Estate taxes as they have for the past 75 years. They do not need a separate activity fee. The board wants to do that now Because they are "ashamed" to again increase Taxes on All Of us. They are now using Activity fee sanity in revealing all the "HIDDEN" costs we Residents were paying in the name of "Free-EDUCATION" Every resident and Business has been paying all those "Hidden" fees. There should be more legal discussion on what "Free Public education" should include. Our MO Constitution says "free public schools are for the "GRATUITOUS INSTRUCTION" of all persons in this state within ages Not in excess of 21 years". No mention of- Stadiums and swim pools and tennis courts and transportation and free lunch programs, space-age auditoriums, mandatory "union contracted INSTRUCTION. We, the people have the power to change ALL OF THIS. Taxpayers should be irate over more than activity fees. You see, I actually believe every Parent should Fee-pay for getting your child to school and back.
flyoverland November 12, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Perhaps if we didn't spend approximately 80% of the generous revenue paid by property owners in the district on salaries there would be money left over for other stuff. We have an obligation to provide public schools. We do not have an obligation to provide every activity that someone wants. Ladue keeps saying it wants to be like the private schools, guess what, they pay for everything for their kids and yours. And please don't tell me it's "for the kids," when you really mean it's for "your kids." The golden goose is on life support and our taxes are going up in January.
Jim November 13, 2012 at 02:00 AM
so Paul I guess public schools aren't deserving of "Stadiums and swim pools and tennis courts and transportation and free lunch programs, space-age auditoriums, mandatory "union contracted INSTRUCTION." I guess you private schools don't think public schools are good enough for these things
PaulRevere November 13, 2012 at 05:22 PM
JIM:Public schools are deserving of anything over and above "education". Do you financially support any of the Stadiums or swim pools or school buses at the "private schools"? NO! (Ashley's comment is right on. "Why should I pay for someone else's child") And do you want parents paying for their private school activities to also support your child's stadiums? Why? what logic is it to expect that? Public schools are indeed good enough and entitled to have these activities. It's just that YOU SHOULD PAY FOR IT. (Not those who do not even attend the school.) The School board is correct is assessing Fees: If you want those extra curricular activities and amenities, I would suggest you "PAY EXTRA" to cover that non-education. "stadiums are Not Education". Yet that cost is now included in all our Real estate and automobile taxes. All of our Real Estate taxes would come down substantially, if all of you who want all that non-education activity "FREE", would pay additional "USER" Fees. You also missed my higher point that "Public Education IS NOT FREE". You pay dearly for it. The school boards are actually on a mission to Charge for everything extra at our public schools. That leaves 100% of your Real Taxes supporting ALL THE UNION PAYROLL and BENEFITS at the schools. So, Jim, get ready to pay extras for what should be a free public education. All residents need to understand that it is the "Union styled Wages" that must be voted down. Great stadiums would follow.
Ashley Schneider November 13, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Paul Revere: I believe in public education - my statement of not paying for another child was for their extracurricular activities - not their education. And the board is not "ashamed" to ask for another tax increase - they are doing their best in today's economy to look at revenue coming in that may not be tax dollars. Isn't that what you anti public education people want? You state that you don't want tax dollars to pay for all of these activities and then you complain that the district is going to charge parents a fee? And you mention auditoriums as one of the perks, but isn't fine arts education a big part of educating kids? I am not against private fundraising or gifts for the "extras" (stadiums, swimming pools, etc.) and as you mention, even parents paying for bus transportation. I agree the public system in the whole country needs an overhaul - but please don't twist my words around to fit your beliefs.
Susan B. Anthony November 14, 2012 at 02:32 AM
"Why should I pay for Ashley's child's education , if my child DOES NOT even attend that school? My dear Paul, let me remind you again: The purpose of public education is not to benefit you personally, or to benefit 70%. It is to benefit our great society as a whole! Even if you or your children elect (I so love to use that word!) to not take advantage of our public education opportunities, you and your 30% still have the duty (I say, privilege!) of funding those opportunities for all. Our great society has a long, long history of encouraging AND MANDATING public education, reaching all the way back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. And let me remind you of what you stated before: "My Goal has Zero to do with Escaping paying my share of "Public Education" I do have such fits trying to follow your moods! One day you say one thing, another you utter quite the opposite! Dare I believe anything you say?
PaulRevere November 14, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Susan: I do not want to ESCAPE paying my "FAIR SHARE" of public Education. That is very clear. I would pay for families that cannot afford Basic Education. Our Public school's now cost over $18,000 per child. They now budget for activities and other costs that are way beyond "basic public mandated education needs" Why should we happy with paying that $18,000 when the private non-union Teachers could educate our children for under $10,000 per year in many parts of County. Most faith based schools can offer equivalent education for 50% the cost. So I would ask you, why don't YOU go join a community that can educate your child for 50% less than public schools.? Stop crediting public education with Mercedes results at Ferarri COSTS. Stop hiding behind a mantra of public school "contributions to mankind". It's hogwash and arrogant toward 200 years of non-public education contributions. If you can afford your children's $18,000 public education , THAN YOU PAY IT. I have NO obligation supporting $100K teacher pensions.(NOT EDUCATION) I do NOT have a civic duty to support "Education" for any parent who can afford to pay their own education costs. Condoms? you pay it. School transportation should be Your exp.. Athletics ? Your exp. You want "OUTRAGEOUS UNION COSTED public education? "THAN YOU PAY FOR THAT EXTRA COST" Do I make myself clear? Union styled Public educators are Stealing our financial lives. "Free public schools" is now $18,000 "UNION COSTED" Absurd!
Susan B. Anthony November 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM
No, dear Paul, you do not make yourself clear. Except with this statement: "Why should I pay for Ashley's child's education , if my child DOES NOT even attend that school?" That so very clearly says to me that you do not want to pay for child's education, except your own. "I do NOT have a civic duty to support "Education" for any parent who can afford to pay their own education costs." Instead of listening to you, I'll pay heed to our good friend Mr. Jefferson: "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness...Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance."

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