SUSSEX - The Hamilton School Board has voted to raise fees for the 2017-18 school years by a minimum of 8.3 percent for all student, athletic, club and parking fees at every grade level.
The increases are as follows:
- elementary (grades K5-5) student fees from $60 to $65;
- middle school student fees from $70 to $75;
- high school student fees from $85 to $90;
- middle school athletic fees from $45 to $50 per sport;
- high school athletic fees from $55 to $65 per sport;
- middle school club fees from $20/$10 to $25/$15;
- high school club fees from $30/$15/$0 to $35/$20/$0; and
- student parking fee from $125 to $150 per year.
Menomonee Falls School District fees for the 2016-17 school year are higher in some areas, especially in student parking and sports fees at all levels.
Germantown School District fees for the 2016-17 school year are lower in many areas and Germantown has a family cap of $375 for sports fees.
Denise Dorn Lindberg, public information coordinator for the Hamilton School District, said the increases are in part due to inflation, but a variety of other factors.
"Just taking a look at the numbers, we just determine how much it really costs to run a sport or club and the fee reflects the actual cost," Lindberg said.
School lunch fees will not go up, unless the federal government determines that a fee increase is necessary, according to the district.
For families who have multiple children within the district who are of limited financial means, the increases could prove to be a challenge, but Hamilton no longer offers a cap on how much single families pay in for fees.
"We do not have caps; the fees are the price they are," Lindberg said. "Years ago, there was a family cap, but implementing it was difficult when you have families at different schools. Prior to 2012 we did have a cap, but no longer.”
Lindberg said there are several options for families who have financial difficulty within the district when it comes to paying the fees.
“Our business office will arrange payment plans so that if they can’t pay all the fees up front, they can make smaller payments over time," Lindberg said. "If there are students whose families are in really dire situations, our social worker would be aware of that and work with those families. In some cases, where there is a really difficult situation for families, outside groups have stepped in to offer financial assistance.”
The most drastic fee increase is for student parking, which increased 16.7 percent. The majority of juniors, seniors and some sophomores drive to Hamilton High School, according to Lindberg; with the 362 juniors and 346 seniors at Hamilton, parking fees for upperclassmen alone in the upcoming school year could generate as much as $100,000.
Class sizes will vary in the 2017-18 school year, but on average will remain between 350-400 students per class.
The last time parking fees increased at Hamilton was in 2013 when the fee rose from $100 to $125; prior to that, it increased in 2010 from $90 to $100 per student.
"The fees applies towards the cost of maintaining the asphalt and all that, and really does add up over time," Lindberg said.
In general, the last time student fees were raised in the Hamilton District was in the 2015-16 school year when it was increased by $5 across the board. The fee increases at that time were to offset credit and debit card costs whenever parents made online payments.
"Prior to that, if you wanted to make a credit or debit payment online, which the majority of our parents do, we just passed the $1 processing fee along for every transaction and when you’re doing lunch payments regularly throughout the year and such, that can end up costing a lot of money over time," Lindberg said. "What we decided to do was to increase the student fees and then no longer have the processing fee. In the end, for most of our parents, it actually ended up reducing their costs.”