As kids head back to school, another local county is adding a supply item fee to the list. This year, Craven County has instituted a self-insurance technology fee for students. Mikel Peterson has more.
In eastern North Carolina the cost of going to school is falling more on parents. Instructional fees are fairly common for students in our area, in amounts ranging from $10 to $50. But with the increased use of computers, in and out of the classroom, students are being held accountable for that technology. Desktops, laptops, tablets, e-readers and graphing calculators are commonly used in grades K through 12. Since this equipment is expensive, student technology fees are being implemented to guarantee those learning tools stay in good shape and working order. Public Information Officer for Onslow County Schools Suzie Ulbrich says in 2014, they started charging students a technology fee of $25.
“Which is an insurance assessment to help the district with cost associated with supporting the devices any accidental damages and that kind of thing.”
Ulbrich says the fee they started charging last year, to parents of 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th graders has been well received.
This past August, Craven County introduced their new self-insurance technology fee. Jennifer Wagner Director of Public Relations for Craven County Schools. Says the fee was created to help protect parents against having to pay full price for repairs or to replace equipment they use to run teaching programs like Accelerated Reader, Cool Math, Climate Kids and Brain Pop.
“Unfortunately there is limited funding to make repairs and this fee will assist with making sure equipment is fixed and/or replaced in a timely manner and so students have access to the technology needed in the classroom.
Wagner says the decision on the Self-Insurance Fee for Craven County’s 2015-2016 school year was based on the model other eastern North Carolina schools had already implemented.
“With the number of hands touching a device grows, so do the number of accidents which require repairs and sometimes replacements.”
This year, Craven County ccommissioners provided $700,000.00 to purchase new devices, but Wagner says there is still a need to repair the inventory from last year. The 20 dollar fee is per student, meaning parents with more than one child would pay more.
“We asked our Principals to work with anybody that was in need of having a payment plan, and we realize this can be a hardship, especially our families with multiple children. So we are more than willing to make accommodations to make this work.”
Based on enrollment numbers for the school system last year, there are 14,000 students enrolled in Craven County. The fee, suggested by auditors, would mean an extra $280,000 for the Craven County school system’s technology account. The funds would be used specifically for repairs and damage. The account, monitored at the district level, will audited at the end of the fiscal year.
“And funds that aren’t encumbered by the school for repairs or replacements, the funds to purchase new equipment for the next school year for the respective school.”
In August, during open house, a letter was given to parents outlining the new policy and stipulations including what the self-insurance technology fee would and would not cover.
“Not very often but we do have deliberate or malicious damages that does occur and this self-insurance fee does not cover that. So, if a student were to intentionally damage a piece of equipment, then the expectation would be that the repairs and /or replacements would be paid at the full price.”
A total replacement fee could range anywhere from $130 for a graphing calculator to up to $700 for a desktop computer. The $20 self- insurance technology fee would cover minor repairs, things like missing or broken keys or a cracked computer screen. The new fee is expected to be paid in full by students within the first 30 days of enrollment and is mandatory.
“It is a district expectation that everybody pays this fee. So, you know again like we mentioned earlier there are accommodations that can be made if they cannot. So, we hope that everybody will do you know what is expected and pay the fee.”
For more information on the new self-insurance technology fee, go to http://www.craven.k12.nc.us/?page_id=73