PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County families will get a break on some school fees, starting in the fall. Since 2009, middle and high school students have paid fees to take electives like band or welding. School Board member Scott Cooper says the practice began during the recession, but it's coming to an end. "We're supposed to be there for kids, first and foremost. That's our job as a school district. So, making sure we don't put a burdensome cost on kids and families who are supposed to receive a free public education is a pretty core part of our mission. I mean, the word 'free' public education means free; not 'sort of free.'"
Cooper tells KBND News, "I think this board is helped out by the fact that everybody on that board has kids in the schools or grandkids in the schools. Board members themselves are pretty closely connected to what's going on. And, when we have to write those checks ourselves, we definitely understand when people are complaining."
He says athletes will still pay to play sports, but those fees have been reduced and capped for families. For middle school students, the fee is capped at $200 per family, and for high school, it's capped at $750 per family. "I would hope that this is how all public bodies work. I know that's a bit utopian. But, we're supposed to take a look at the constituents we serve and treat people as if they're our customers not our cash cows. And, that's basically what we've done."