The Dalles High School has eliminated 19 class fees for the upcoming school year, while the elementaries and middle school have eliminated their small handful of fees.
At the grade school level, students at all three elementaries previously paid a $10 registration fee and $25 in lieu of supplies. The $25 fee applied to K-3 students at Chenowith and K-5 students at Dry Hollow and Colonel Wright.
The only remaining optional fee at the grade school level is a $6.50 to $7.50 recorder fee for Dry Hollow Elementary.
The Dalles Middle School now has no fees at all. Previously, it had a $30 registration fee, a $40 sports participation fee, an optional $20 PE uniform fee (or $12 for shorts only or $8 for shirt only), a $5 fee for a PE cinch bag and $50 for an ASB card replacement.
The high school still has fees for various classes, but the list of fees is considerably shorter. High School Principal Kurt Evans said, “I’ve never liked the fee structure at the high school, to be honest. If you end up charging a fee for virtually every elective class, then, from a schoolwide standpoint, what is the free option?”
They evaluated every course charging a fee, and opted to only keep fees for those classes where the student gets to take home something they made in the class.
Dropped fees included for the following courses: DIY art, photoshop 1 and 2, graphics design 1, 2 and 3, video production, computer introduction, ITS (Information Technology Systems) levels 1 through 5, business intro, mechanics 1 and 2, robotics, electric car and drones and aerial photography.
Nearly all the dropped fees were $15, and two were $30.
When he looked at fees “it just seemed real inequitable from where the fees were charged and how it was decided that some classes had a fee and some classes did not. There didn’t seem to be any real clear rhyme or reason as to why they were set up that way.”
The law allows for charging for any course that isn’t part of the regular education program, which can be loosely interpreted to mean any elective, according to Evans. “We weren’t in violation of the law how it stood,” under the old fee structure, he said. But to have virtually every elective have a fee, “that by design is not right.”
The school never denied anyone the ability to enroll in an elective course because they were unable to pay the fee, he said.
He said the lost income in fees is mostly being backfilled by increased revenue from the state program created by the passage of Measure 98, which was largely aimed at boosting career and technical education course offerings.
That vote was done for the purpose of removing fees and barriers to classes, Evans said.
The remaining fees are for marching band, AP courses, art classes, culinary arts, construction, woodworking and welding classes, and blueprint reading.
Nearly all the fees are $15, with welding and blueprint reading costing $35 and first responders, marching band and AP courses costing $30.
Evans said the fee is waived for students with an inability to pay.
The school still charges sports fees and an ASB fee. The sports fee and AP course fee can be waived or reduced for students with free or reduced lunches.
AP courses cost $30, and students inducted into National Honor Society or National Technical Honor Society pay $10.