Parents frantically shopping for pens, pencils, binders, back-to-school clothing and other supplies are reminded that the Upper Canada District School Board protects them from unwarranted school fees.
Under terms of Policy 452, passed in March 2012, the Board guarantees that all students have the right to attend school without payment of fees for essential learning materials, supplies, activities and textbooks. The policy applies to essential supplies required to meet the terms of the curriculum, and not materials for enhanced programs or optional programs and activities.
“The Board passed the policy last year because we believe that all our students – whatever their economic circumstances – have the right to attend school without their families having to worry about paying for materials essential to their learning,” said Director David K. Thomas, August 13. “Returning to school is a cause for celebration. It should not be a financial burden on any family.”
This means the Board will provide items such as textbooks, workbooks, and science supplies, offering parents some financial relief at a time that for many is already straining their pocketbooks, said Thomas.
Materials used to supplement a student’s educational experience and that are not required under the core curriculum – such as expenses for yearbooks, graduation gowns, optional field trips not curricular in nature, school dances, and student recognition programs – may be subject to fees.
Under the policy, schools are prohibited from charging:
• Registration or administrative fees for regular day school programming;
• Fees for guest speakers or presentations where material presented is a mandatory element of the subject or course;
• Extra charges for learning materials necessary for completion of the curriculum such as science supplies, lab material kits and safety goggles; and
• Fees for learning materials funded through the allocated budget of a school board and which are necessary to meet learning expectations such as computers, workbooks, textbooks, and staff development and training costs.
Additional fees may be charged to a student if a school community wishes to offer programming and materials “beyond what is necessary to meet the learning expectations of a particular grade or course.”
For instance, if a student is building a bench in woodworking class, and wants to use a specialized wood not supplied in the course, the student may be charged for it. However, for those students who wish to build the same bench as part of the curriculum expectations, the Board must provide necessary materials to ensure they can complete the project.
Examples of when fees can be charged include when an activity, material, course or program is:
• Not required as part of the regular day school program;
• Voluntary, and alternatives are offered;
• Non-essential or extracurricular in nature and is not required for graduation by an individual student; or
• A voluntary upgrade or substitute of a more costly material to the material provided for course purposes.