Some schools refunding student fees, others holding cash for next year

Thousands of families will receive cheques in the mail in the coming weeks with refunds for cancelled field trips and uneaten hot lunches.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/05/2020 (937 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thousands of families will receive cheques in the mail in the coming weeks with refunds for cancelled field trips and uneaten hot lunches.

Every school year, students pay in advance for services ranging from classroom supplies to field trips. Combined, fees can cost hundreds in extra expenses.

Now that hallways have emptied and extracurricular activities have been called off, schools are holding onto fees for events that won’t happen and expenses they won’t incur.

Kristin Murphy / The Deseret News file Thousands of families will receive cheques in the mail in the coming weeks with refunds for cancelled field trips and uneaten hot lunches.

In anticipation of in-person classes resuming in autumn, some administrators are banking unused fees for next year. Others are directly reimbursing students with funds, which vary between divisions and schools.

“Our commitment is to get money back in the pockets of families during these challenging times,” said Stacey Ashley, spokeswoman for Pembina Trails School Division.

In Pembina Trails, which includes 35 schools and nearly 15,000 students, school staff were asked to aim to put cheques in the mail this week.

Ashley said delivery dates are expected to vary depending on school population, among other factors. The total sum that will be returned to families in the division is still unknown.

The province’s public school fee policy allows schools to charge students for paper, writing tools, calculators, student planners, exercise books and other equipment. Music instrument rentals, field trips, team trips and special events can also cost students extra.

On top of those fees, parent councils raise funds and collect fees to run programs throughout the school year.

Barb Bogen paid approximately $150 in fees this year for her two sons in the River-East Transcona School Division, where schools are giving students credits for the upcoming school year, where possible, and returning funds to graduating students without younger siblings via cheque.

A member of both school parent councils, Bogen said it doesn’t make sense for schools to waste money on stamps and envelopes to return parents’ minimal amounts.

“I am in the school, I see how much teachers are putting out, what these (fees) go towards,” she said. “The school fees are barely covering what the school teachers need, but every little bit counts.”

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES Louis Riel School Division has opted to reimburse parents with three months worth of transportation fees.

Division scolaire franco-manitobaine will also carry over fees into next year, while the Louis Riel School Division has opted to reimburse parents with three months worth of lunch and transportation fees, as well as cancelled field trip funds. However, parents can also request their extra fees be rolled over for future use.

Winnipeg and St. James-Assiniboia school divisions have handed schools the task of dealing with excess fees at their discretion.

While Seven Oaks School Division doesn’t charge student fees, pupils who live outside free transportation catchments and pay for bus service will not be charged for April, May or June.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

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