Midlands school districts pass along budget burden to parents

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - As thousands of kids across the state head back to school, administrators are trying to find ways to work with smaller budgets.  Some Midlands school districts have started new policies to help make ends meet.

Kershaw County School District parents will now have to pay school registration fees for most students.

The fees are $30 for all students from elementary to high school. If a student gets reduced lunch, the registration fee goes down to $9. If a student gets free lunch they will not have to pay a registration fee.

"These fees help plug the hole where there is a gap in our budget for supplies in the classroom," said Mary Anne Byrd, spokeswoman for Kershaw County Schools. "Nobody liked this, even the school board was reluctant to do this."

This school year the district has $12 million less in the budget than just two years ago.

Kershaw County is not the only school district that charges a registration fee or sports fees.  For years other districts have charged parents to bring in extra money. Those districts include, Lexington 1, 2, 3 and 4, Lexington-Richland 5, Richland 2, Newberry and Sumter 17.

The registration fee is estimated to bring in $185,000 to the Kershaw County School District, but officials hope that money will come from somewhere else in the future.

"This is a year-by-year decision, so our board implemented fees for this school year, but they don't hope this is a long term thing. Hopefully when things turn around with state and local revenue might not have to do this," said Byrd.

The district will work with parents on a case by case basis if they have trouble paying the fee.

Kershaw School District board members also voted to start charging students who play sports. In middle school it is $25, and in high school it goes up to $50.

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