Harrisburg School District to give parents a break on school fee - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Harrisburg School District to give parents a break on school fees

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HARRISBURG, Ill. -- On Tuesday night, the Harrisburg school board approved an agenda item to waive some school fees for parents. 

Like many school districts across the state, Harrisburg has had a tight budget over the past 10 years. Superintendent Mike Gauch says several cuts had to be made to keep schools up and running, "We've been able to do some upgrades, but we made some very tough decisions." 

Many times, parents have had to step in with costs despite the latest state data shows 61% of students in the district are considered low income. "We had to ask for donations. We had to have them bring in Kleenex. We've had to do almost everything like that," Gauch explains.

As a way to say thank you for their continued support, Gauch has proposed to do away with several fees for the 2019 - 2020 school year. Those include student and book rental fees, sport and band participation fees. 

Gauch estimates the total in savings to be $100,00 with most of the funds going toward free breakfast and lunches for every student or up to $1,600 per child. 

Parents Valarie Hodges and Nikki Williams, who also work for the district, admit all the fees on top of back to school expenses, can be difficult. "Buying new school clothes for them, backs packs, lunch boxes all of that stuff. It just becomes a big burden," Williams explains.

While Hodges adds that other parents will be just as excited as they are, "I think they (parents) are going to finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief and see that the district is on their side." 

Gauch says if the budget stays on track, the district may be able to cut fees for other school years. However, free school breakfasts and lunches will likely only be for the 2019 - 2020 school year.

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