School Board to Consider Request for Student Fees in Some DCHS Courses

July 9, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education next month may consider granting approval for DeKalb County High School to charge student fees in certain courses.

The issue was briefly discussed Thursday night but postponed until the August meeting.

The requests are being made by teachers in the Nutrition and Foods and the Science, Family and Consumer Science classes as well as PACE (a transition class for the Freshman Academy) and the E4TN on-line class which benefits students seeking to earn dual credit for high school and college.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby says the proposed fees requested are "in line with what several schools surrounding us charge."

Speaking specifically about the E4TN on-line course, Willoughby said "We have had some students to enroll in those classes, with only so many slots that we're able to take care of, and then a student decides to drop that class. Therefore once they have enrolled, that keeps another student from coming in. So that is one justification for (charging a fee) in that particular course. A think from that perspective it (charging a fee) would come closer to keeping a child from just dropping out because they don't want to do the extra work."

Willoughby added "students who are on fee waivers would not have to participate in this (pay the fees)."

The requests have been forwarded from a few DCHS teachers and principal Kathy Hendrix to Director Willoughby.

In making her written request, teacher Harriett Cantrell of the Nutrition and Foods class writes that "The rising cost of food each year makes it necessary for the nutrition and foods class to charge a lab fee of $25.00 per student. Although we receive vocational supply money at the beginning of each year, this money must also go for supplies and equipment, as well as food. There are two food classes each semester, each class plans and prepares several meals during the last nine week term. Purchases include: food, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, and paper products. The $25.00 lab fee is needed."

Teachers Mary Anne Carpenter and Jenny Norris of the Science Department, also made a written request to DCHS Principal Hendrix on behalf of teachers Kevin Burchfield, Amanda Fuller, Dylan Kleparek, and Peggy Semmes stating that "The Science Department of DeKalb County High School requests approval to charge a laboratory fee of $5.00 for science classes during the academic year 2010-2011. This lab fee is used to purchase lab supplies and equipment and replace broken/damaged items. As in the past, any students that receive free or reduced lunch will be exempt from paying this lab fee."

Teacher Linda Parris, in a letter to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, requested "permission to charge a lab fee in the PACE (transition class for Freshman Academy). This lab fee would cover the cost of a workbook. We feel this workbook is pertinent to increasing the rigor and relevance of the class instead of using class time to strictly copy pages from a workbook. The workbook is copyrighted, prohibiting the use of copying these pages needed for this class. The lab fee would be $10.00 or less to strictly cover the cost of the workbook."

In a separate letter, Parris asked Willoughby for "permission to charge a lab fee in the Family and Consumer Science class and the Textile and Apparel class. This lab fee would cover the cost of projects the students made in class and are allowed to keep. These projects include items such as pillowcase dresses and rag quilts. Materials for these type projects tend to add up quickly and since students get to keep a nice project. The lab fee would be $10 or less to strictly cover the cost of the materials that students select to complete as class projects."

Teacher Donna Emmons of the Journalism Class, in her letter to Ms. Hendrix requested "that all students who take journalism be required to pay a fee of $5.00. This fee will help cover the costs of materials the students will need during the semester, including a writers notebook, First Amendment card, press pass, flash drive, and use of equipment, including camera and recorder. In addition, there will be a workshop in the fall that costs $20.00 per student. This is an optional event and students are not required to participate, but are strongly encouraged to do so. This one-day event is worth weeks of exposure and experience that the students will need in order to be successful in journalism."

DCHS Principal Kathy Hendrix, writes that enrollment fees for the E4TN on-line class would be $25.00 per class and that all surrounding counties currently charge a $25.00 enrollment fee for on-line classes.

Meanwhile, in other business, the board Thursday night approved individual school budgets and fundraiser requests for the year and okayed an Early College On-line Program through Chattanooga State Community College.

This program will begin this fall and will allow students at DCHS the opportunity to enroll in on-line college level courses through Chattanooga State their junior and senior year. Students will receive college as well as high school credit for the courses taken online. All of the courses taken through Chattanooga State will be transferable to any Tennessee Board of Regents post secondary institution except Vanderbilt University. Some out of state institutions will also accept these credits.

In his monthly report on personnel, Director Willoughby announced that Eddie Roy Judkins, a maintenance worker, has retired and Rebecca Oliver, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, has resigned.

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