District to Eliminate Online Convenience Charge, Adjust Some Student Fees

Next year, families paying school-related fees online will no longer pay a convenience charge. All student fees will remain the same as last year, except textbook and nutrition services fees. Transportation fees are still under review.

Last year, the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) offered a new online payment system as a way to pay school fees, transportation fees, and add money to a student’s nutrition account.

The district charged a two percent convenience fee, subject to a $1 minimum and $5 maximum, to help offset the nearly $80,000 in processing charges from the online payment company. The district will no longer charge the convenience fee.

Fees such as student activity passes, instrument rental, driver education, parking fines, and more will remain the same as last year.

Textbook fees will increase next year by $5 for the regular rate and by $4 for the reduced rate. This is the first textbook fee increase in three years.

The 2017-18 textbook fees will be:

  • Full-Day Kindergarten: Regular Fee $55; Reduced Fee $39
  • Grades 7-8: Regular Fee $65; Reduced Fee $46
  • Grade 9: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60
  • Grades 10-12: Regular Fee $85; Reduced Fee $60

“When we compare our fees to other metro-area school districts, we do not have the highest fees and we do not have the lowest fees,” WDMCS CFO Paul Bobek said.

School meal prices will increase 5 cents for a full-priced student lunch and 10 cents for a full-priced breakfast. The increase in meal prices is due to the rising food and personnel costs. For the 2017-18 school year, full-priced lunches will be $2.80 for elementary students and $2.90 for junior high and high school students. Full-priced breakfasts will cost $1.80 for elementary students and $1.90 for junior high and high school students. There is no increase for reduced-rate student meals.

The district proposed a $20 increase in the annual two-way bus pass. Transportation fees have not changed for five years. Bobek explained that even with the proposed increase, the district would not charge the full cost of transporting a student. As in the past, the district would only charge approximately three-fourths of the average transportation cost per student.

The School Board took no action on the transportation fee proposal, due, in part, to a request from the Superintendent’s Finance & Facilities Committee for additional information about the pay zone areas for busing.

The Transportation Department is analyzing how much it would cost to provide free transportation for K-12 students living one mile or more from school. The district currently follows the Iowa Department of Education recommendation to provide free transportation for elementary students living two miles or more from school and for high school students living three miles or more from school.

The transportation fee proposal will come back to the School Board at a later date with the additional information about the adjusted pay zone.