Clintonville asks who pays fees: district or high school students?
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville School Board learned at its March 14 meeting that law changes have given the school district new options to offer students courses through different colleges in the state.
The courses offer college credit and dual credit.
The topic was on the agenda as an informational item not requiring any action by the board.
With more class offerings comes the question of who pays for the courses — the district or the student?
The board was given a copy of courses available at UW-Green Bay, UW-Oshkosh and Fox Valley Technical College that high school students have available to them. It also included an estimated number of students who would take those courses. Even though some of the courses are cost neutral, total estimated tuition cost for the district was listed as $51,570.
Variables noted when figuring the costs included the actual number of students taking the course, meeting the district required minimums to run a course, and having at least 12 students (in combination with other schools) for the CNA course.
Clintonville High School Principal Lance Bagstad said with passage of Act 55, school boards can decide by policy whether to charge students the full tuition cost of a course, a partial tuition cost, or not charge the student at all.
“The ability to attain college credits is a huge selling point for a high school in a district our size,” said Tom O’Toole, superintendent for the Clintonville School District. “The only question that we’re kind of struggling with is do we share the cost, do we foot the cost, do the students foot the cost?”
Board member Jim Schultz asked if the tuition needed to be paid for a student if the student didn’t pass the class.
Bagstad said the tuition still needed to be paid.
Bagstad recommended the district create a simple cost structure to pay for the courses.
Schultz also asked if students had to pay some of the cost if that would prevent some students from taking courses based on their family’s income.
“Certainly in a district that hovers at the poverty level as we do, I think that is very possible,” Bagstad said. “I don’t think we can sit here and consciously say, ‘No, that will never happen.’”
School Board President Ben Huber said he thinks being able to provide these courses to students is “a wonderful thing to offer,” especially in a high poverty district.
School Board member Dirk Weber agreed with Huber. He also said students should have “some skin in the game” and should have to pay at least a modest fee.
The board directed school administration to come up with different scenarios for paying for the courses and to bring those to the board at a future meeting.