There was only one isolated, lone, solitary place in the whole Alabama Administrative Code (AAC) that set an actual dollar limit on how much of a user fee a school district could charge for student to take a course.
The course? Driver’s Education.
The fee? $30.
But….that limit was eliminated at the April 9, 2014, Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting.
Here’s what the change looked like.
Technically, the Driver’s Education user fee could have been increased with the approval of the State Superintendent. [Likely he has better things to do.]
And that whole “the fee…shall not exceed the anticipated local costs” stuff? Not to be cynical, but who is going to verify those costs?
The one good thing that came out of this was that it gave me an opportunity to share information about the shocking increases in user fees charged to families of children in public schools.
Because the change in the AAC required the SBOE to hold a public hearing, I decided to seize the moment.
Here are the “handouts” I gave to the SBOE.
No, I didn’t believe that the SBOE would actually vote the proposed change down, but at least the conversation has now been opened. The members appeared to be sincerely interested and genuinely concerned about the financial pressure public education user fees are placing on Alabama’s families.
Admittedly, witnessing the SBOE approve the removal of the dollar limit invoked a sense of dread for me.
It wasn’t so much the actual driver’s education fee limit removal, it was what that removal represented: the last bit of control the SBOE had over how high local school districts could set their course-related user fees was relinquished.
The End. No More Limits.
You’re on your own, folks.
Take the time to carefully examine your local school’s user fees during registration this year. If you share my concerns, open up a conversation with your local school board members. And while you’re at it, open up a conversation with your state school board member.