The Iowa Department of Education recently issued a ruling on the types of fees districts can charge parents. The attorney for the Iowa Association of School Boards, Mary Gannon, says the fees that are allowed and those that aren’t allowed, will likely balance out.
Gannon says that’s because there were some areas where the schools weren’t sure they had the authority to charge fees, such as for parking cars on school grounds. The ruling allows schools to charge for parking. Gannon says there are some areas where schools can’t charge fees where they had been. One part of the ruling says schools can’t charge a fee for buses to athletic events or for field trips.
Gannon doesn’t think districts will seek changes from the legislature based on the Education Department’s ruling. She says they won’t likely go after any more "fee authority," they will instead seek full funding of programs. She says funding was cut back in the 90’s and never restored, and with that funding, they wouldn’t have to charge fees.
Gannon says more state money for schools would make things easier for everyone. "We would rather get the money from the state, rather than have to nickel and dime parents, and also especially in the area of transportation, we’re trying to find some solution to the increase in transportation costs," Gannon says. She says the transportation funding comes out of the general budget, so when fuel costs go up, they money has to come from somewhere else in the budget.
The Department of Education ruling on fees came at the request of the Ames School District which sought to clarify the fees it could and could not charge.