Saturday, September 20, 2014

WOW!! NO MORE FEES at Fox C-6!

For the parents in the Fox C-6 School District this will be one of those articles you're going to appreciate for a very long time!

What's With All the Fees?
It's about those fees that the Fox C-6 School District has been collecting for years for everything under the sun where you felt like you were being nickel and dime'd to death at the beginning of each and every school year.

You know the fees ($6 for a locker, $7 for art, $10 for a lab, $60 for shop class) just to name a few!

Real quick, before writing this article, I wanted to verify what the fee was for a planner at Fox that I know I had paid for before. I remembered being charged for a planner and a locker at Ridgewood last year for my child. So, I did a quick search on Google to see if I could find out what the fee was and the results from my search were both pretty funny and pretty cool.

When I did a Google search for "Fox C-6 Planner cost", Google returned the following results:
About 81,400,000 results (0.48 seconds)

What's so funny about that?

It's the fact that the FoxC6Watchdogs blog was listed as #8 out of the roughly 81,400,000 results!

And, I found what I was looking for. I had written about this issue in August 2013 in the following article:

In my August 2013 article above I wrote the following:
"This year Ridgewood Middle School is requesting a $6 fee for a locker combination and a school planner. I thought the lockers were already in the building."
This year the charge for a locker combination at Ridgewood cost $8.

You're probably now thinking that by charging all of those extra fees that perhaps former Fox C-6 school superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow was able to help funnel more of our taxpayer dollars towards paying for her outrageous salary and you may be correct. There had to be some way to "balance" the budget and afford to write your own ticket to wealth and prosperity on the backs of a demographic that in no way supported the amount of salary that she was receiving for all those years.

I'm sure that former superintendent Dianne Brown-Critchlow probably didn't worry too much about having to pay $6 here or $10 there for all of the fees while she was "earning" more than $260,000 a year in salary.

Also, it probably didn't dent Dianne Critchlow's budget too much since to of her sons were employed by the Fox School District as "student workers" during the 2013-2014 school year to "shred paper". Her sons were paid an hourly wage of $15.00 and $12.50 per hour according to information CFO John Brazeal supplied to JCPenknife who forwarded it to me. One of her sons was paid $25,800.00 and the other was paid $11,412.50 during the 2013-2014 school year.

Her sons are not currently employed by the district. We'll have to discuss the issue of her sons being employed by the district as "student workers" without a contact in a future article. I don't want anyone's blood pressure to rise too high while reading this!

Of course, Dianne Critchlow also had a bit of help in paying for her son's college tuition thanks to the several Fox C-6 Scholarships that they were awarded by her. But I digress!

So on top of having to pay fees each year for miscellaneous things at the start of the school year, students and parents have been asked for years to do fund raisers for our schools so our schools could afford to pay for all of the things they needed for their daily operation.

Missouri Constitution Article IX says that we are to maintain free public schools so every child receives a FREE Education.

However, that really wasn't happening at Fox C-6 for quite some time. You knew you were having to pay quite a few fees at the start of school every year. Even this year, you can see some of the fees that were asked for at the top of this article. There were fees for art supplies, shop supplies, lab supplies and locker combinations just like in years past.

Guess what? All of these types of fees were put to an end at the September 16, 2014 Fox C-6 school board meeting! There was some discussion about it at the August 19, 2014 board meeting that I missed but found out from others that did attend. Fox's new CFO John Brazeal did some research and found out the following that he presented during his Financial Report at the September 16, 2014 Fox C-6 school board meeting:
 "We've also confronted an issue with regard to fees. As you know the Missouri Constitution requires that we provide a FREE education. But for many years we've been assessing fees for certain courses like lab fees, shop fees, art fees, etc.. We solicited a legal opinion on that practice and we've been advised that those fees are not allowable. So we've directed the buildings to stop collecting those fees. 
At first glance, those discontinued fees appear to replace a greater burden on the budget. However, generally those supplies were being purchased from budget accounts that were tax supported. While the fees were being posted to revolving accounts. There was a disconnect there. 
Going forward we should be able to sustain the necessary expenses in the budget. And, uh, the revolving accounts may have less discretionary funds in them."
You may have to read through Mr. Brazeal's remarks a few times to catch the fact that the supplies were being purchased from budgeted accounts that were tax supported while the fees were being posted to revolving accounts. The main point being that Missouri Constitution Article IX states that public schools must be free and the district cannot collect fees for supplies that are required for a course.

Click on the following link to listen hear John Brazeal's comments at the September 16, 2014 Fox C-6 school board meeting during his Financial Report. The good news was that Governor Nixon released money last week to Public Education. Mr. Brazeal also discussed some of the policies and procedures that the district has been working on to improve internal controls. Those controls cover petty cash, credit cards, gift cards, scholarships and more.