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2024-2025 Student Fees Return in Absence of ESSER Funds

2024-2025 Student Fees Return in Absence of ESSER Funds

The Lakota Board of Education approved the return of student fees for the 2024-2025 school year at its June 27 regular school board meeting

Since 2020, Lakota has been able to waive all student fees by utilizing federal dollars from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Lakota Treasurer/CFO Adam Zink confirmed that ESSER provided just under $2.8 million in relief, specifically for school supplies. 

He explained that ESSER funds are no longer available, necessitating the return of annual fees to cover the district’s costs for “consumable” supplies. Consumable supplies are items used by individual students as part of their daily instruction, like student workbooks or art materials, for example. 

“We have worked very hard to build a zero-based budgeting model for student fees moving forward,” said Zink, explaining that fees will be adjusted year over year to account for any deficiencies or overages from the previous year’s expenses. “After consumable expenses are paid, our goal is to not have a reserve balance.”

The new approach also helps the District avoid the minutiae of individual course fees at the high school level. With the exception of a few courses with outlier costs, the high school fees reflect an average of most courses. 

Pay-to-Participate Fees

The approved student fee schedule also includes an increase to junior school athletic participation fees, as well as high school pay-to-participate fees for athletics, marching band and color/winter guard. A slight adjustment to daily breakfast and lunch menu prices, as well as the junior and high school Club Card, was also approved. 

“The last time we increased pay-to-participate fees was in 2011 before they were lowered again in 2014 following the community’s passage of the last operating levy,” said Zink, explaining that Lakota covers just over 75 percent of these total expenses, with the remainder passed on to parents. “In spite of rising costs, we have remained committed to keeping these costs fixed for our families for the last 10 years.” 

Junior school participation fees for the upcoming school year increased from $150 to $225 per student. At the high school level, the per-student fee increased from $200 to $300. The family cap was set at $600 for one student and $900 for two or more students. 

As an extension of the zero-based budgeting model for regular student fees, Zink also explained that the new fee levels account for regular replacement cycles of related items like uniforms and instruments, for example. Any expenditures beyond these cycled replacements will need to be covered by fundraising efforts.

Breakfast & Lunch Prices

The last increase for meal prices took place in the 2017-2018 school year. For the upcoming school year, daily breakfast prices will increase for all grades by $0.25 to $1.75. Lunch entree prices for all grades increased to $3.00 (previously $2.50 for grades K-6 and $2.75 for grades 7-12). The reduced meal price was set at $0.40 per meal.

Beginning July 15, families can  apply for free and reduced meal prices. The application link for the 2024-2025 school year will be available on the meal application page of Lakota’s Child Nutrition website. Families must re-apply for this status each year. 

The free/reduced status will also waive all student fees as well as junior and high school club cards. With the slight increase, these district-sponsored cards will now include admission to home athletic games at the building where it was purchased. 

View the 2024-2025 student fee amounts by grade level and activity. Fees will be posted to students’ PaySchools Central accounts (formerly EZPay) beginning after the beginning of the school year. Read more about Lakota’s transition to PaySchools Central beginning this school year. 

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