Driver’s ed fee going up for USD 410 students

by Aleen Ratzlaff

The Free Press

Among actions taken, Unified School District 410 Board of Education established school fees for 2010-11 at its regular monthly meeting July 12.

While most fees remain at the past year?s rate, the drivers? ed fee will increase to $150 with those on reduced and free lunch plans paying $75.

The board?s decision came after an extended discussion. Superintendent Steve Noble made the initial recommendation to set the fee at $150 for all students. Last year, the amount was $120 with $60 for those with reduced lunches and $25 for those with free lunches.

Noble said he had surveyed school districts regarding their charges to students, and responses indicated a broad range?from no charge to hundreds of dollars. With the proposed change, however, USD 410 would be fairly close in costs to other districts in the area. Even with the increase, the district will need to subsidize the costs, Noble said.

Board member Rod Koons raised concerns about charging all students $150 because of the marked increase in costs to students who have reduced and free meal plans.

?You can tell I?m struggling with the drivers ed (increase),? Koons told board members, adding that students benefit from the instruction, and for some the higher cost would prevent them from taking the course.

Noble said the district can make payment arrangements for parents who request such.

Following the discussion, the board voted to raise the charge to $150 but charge half that amount to students on reduced and free lunches for the upcoming year.

Vince Jantz of Jantz Construction in Tampa presented drawings for remodeling the Midway Motors building on West D Street that will house the several departments, including district offices, maintenance and transportation. USD 410 will pay Jantz Construction for the drawings and specs. Once the board makes a final decision, bids will be sent out for the project, Noble said.

?It?s a fairly straightforward project,? Jantz said, adding that projected completion date for the remodeling, estimated at 60 days, is dependent on how soon Midway moves out. Work on the new Midway building has had delays, he said, which affects when remodeling can begin.

Jantz said he will send digital copies of the drawing to board members and requested their feedback in preparation for submitting a completed version at the August meeting. Noble said he will collect the feedback and relay it to Jantz.

Board members agreed to postpone the decision about paying $1,864 in annual dues to Schools in Fair Funding until next month because three members?Dale Klassen, Mark Rooker and Joe Sechrist?were absent from Monday?s meeting.

Prior to the board?s decision, Noble was asked to explain why he supported the district?s participation in the organization. In response, he said while he believes that many in the legislature are trying to protect public education, the support is precarious. According to Noble, Fair Funding has three goals: stop cuts to education, restore funding to the statutory level and insure that suitable funding is in place for the long term.

?This district has taxpayers doing their fair share in supporting education,? he said. ?It?s the state?s obligation to provide an education for students, no matter where they live.?

In rural education, Noble said, without financial help and resources from the state, rural education is in deep trouble.

?We?re very vulnerable,? he said.

More on the meeting will appear in the July 21 edition of the Free Press.

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