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KCSD eliminates incidental fee
School board June 11
Kershaw County School District CFO Donnie Wilson explains to the Kershaw County Board of Trustees why the district no longer needs to charge an “incidental” or “matriculation” fee to students and their families. The board voted to eliminate the fee -- which was put in place in 2011 -- during its meeting Tuesday. - photo by Gee Whetsel

Parents of Kershaw County School District (KCSD) students will get to keep a little more money in their pockets next year, thanks to the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees’ decision Tuesday night to eliminate “incidental” or “matriculation” fees collected when students are registered for school.

In addition, KCSD Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said parking and athletic fees for students will be standardized across the district “so that we can have some control over what those fees are, but they won’t be charged at the district level any more. Those fees will be charged and collected at the school level.”

KCSD Chief Financial Officer Donnie Wilson said the district began collecting the incidental fees in 2011 when the economy was sluggish and money for schools was tight.

“At that time, we looked around at other school districts and realized we were the only ones not charging those fees,” Wilson said; later, the district then began charging a $30 fee per student at registration. “We did that in an effort to have enough money to put back into the schools for supplies and other basic needs. But since then we have recovered sufficiently financially so that this would be a good point and time to go back to the way it was -- no incidental fees and let the other fees go back to the schools.”

He said the district collected $155,612 in incidental fees during the 2018-19 school year.

“That amount is definitely something we can absorb in our budget and take off of our parents,” Robbins said. “I think this is the right thing to do.”

After discussion, board members voted enthusiastically to eliminate the incidental fee.

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the board received “first reading” of proposed policy changes and updates of its board policy manual. KCSD Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd led the board through proposed changes for Board Policy Manual Sections C (General School Administration) and D (Fiscal Management) suggested by the S.C. School Board Association (SCSBA).

Byrd said during the past school year, the board asked the SCSBA to assist with a review of its board policy manual.

“A lot of the changes we’re bringing to you are being made to update and provide more detail and clarification on your policies,” Byrd told board members.

One new proposed policy deals with online fundraising campaigns, she said.

Currently online fundraising/crowdfunding through platforms like DonorsChoose.org, and GoFundMe, and others are not monitored or regulated by the district.

Wilson said there are “28 of those sites” being utilized by district employees to raise funds.

“We had no idea,” he said. “That’s why this policy is being introduced -- to give us some guidance on how to handle these situations. All of them are very worthwhile causes, but we don’t know who’s asking for what, how much is coming in, or what’s happening to it. We’ve got to get control of it and that’s what this (new policy) is about.”

The proposed policy states: “Any certified district staff member interested in pursuing an online fundraising campaign must submit a proposal to his/her direct supervisor to seek permission to raise funds or acquire donations of materials for the students of the district via a crowdfunding platform that has been approved by the superintendent and chief financial officer.

“Approved crowdfunding platforms must meet the following requirements:

“• All funds or materials donated through the platform must go directly to the district or school administration and not to the individual staff member who initiated the request.

“• The platform must have safeguards in place to prevent misuse of funds and/or misappropriation of materials.

“• Administrative fees, if any, collected by the platform must be reasonable and appropriate.

“• District banking information will not be disclosed.”

In addition, the SCSBA is recommending a specific change to the district’s tobacco-free policy following an amendment in April to the S.C. Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006. The amendment changes the definition of “alternative nicotine product” by adding definitions for electronic smoking devices, e-liquid and vapor products.

“While every district already has such a policy in place, any applicable policy must be updated to meet the new provisions under the law,” Byrd said.

She said it’s important to let students and their families know about the district’s tobacco-free policy.

“We found out last week we’ve received a $5,000 grant from DHEC (S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control) to help with signage and some curriculum materials,” Byrd said. “That will go a long way in getting the word out.”

The board will vote on the proposed policy changes at its July 9 meeting. The changes must be adopted by Aug. 1.

In other business, the board approved the district’s annual submission to apply for federal funds for Fiscal Year 2020. Those include Title I funds of approximately $2.429 million, Title II funds of approximately $322,737, Title III funds of approximately $30,087 and Title IV funds of $180,395. The funds will be used to operate the various programs in the district for the 2019-20 school year.

The board also entered executive session to discuss employment matters.