By Cole Parkinson
School fees for next year have been put forward to the Horizon school board in preparation for the next term starting in September.
While each school has their own set of fees for a variety of activities likes sports, field trips, band among others, the list must be submitted to the province. With the most recent change in government though, Horizon administration is not entirely sure how much the process will change or remain the same.
“It is a little unclear of the direction the provincial government is going with school fee regulation. The regulations still require the board to submit their list of fees to the province. However, the province hasn’t actually provided us with the template of how they want us to report on this year. So, we aren’t entirely sure of what will happen this year,” said Phil Johansen, associate superintendent of finance and operations at the board’s regular meeting on June 26.
No word has come of yet but Horizon does expect to see some changes to the process which should speed up school’s abilities to change certain fees.
“Informal communication would lead us to believe that the notion of having to send school fees to the minister for approval will probably vanish with new legislation. The approval will end at the board level, that is our assumption moving forward,” explained Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools.
With how fee schedules have been typically been submitted to the provincial government, schools submit fairly lengthy detailed numbers for all of their expected extracurricular activities.
Some schools only submit a few fees while others have multiple pages put forward in order to cover their bases.
“The list of fees are quite detailed now and that was in response to regulations given a couple of years ago. It used to be, schools would set a general $50 fee or $100 fee to attend and they would use that for various supplies. The new regulations specify that if you are going to charge a fee, you have to identify what it is for and how much. If we don’t spend it on exactly that, we have to give it back. That has generated a fairly lengthy list of fees,” added Johansen. “Most of these fees are related to option classes such as woodshed or foods, or extracurricular activities for transportation and tournament enrollments. We also have some fees here for field trips and various activities like swimming and things like that. The baseball program is also listed in here.”
For the majority of schools within Horizon, a large portion of the fees submitted are for various sports teams. A big reason for this is due to the costs associated with travel including the chance the team makes it to provincials which would bring another cost.
“Some of them even have costs for provincials and provincial locations have a tendency to move around. So they don’t necessarily know where the location will be. I know there was one year where they were caught off guard because it was in Fort McMurray and the year before it was in Medicine Hat. The amounts here, if they are estimates, they will be an assumption it is the furthest location in the province and if costs less, they would charge less,” said Tymensen.