Local News

Harnett County Schools Charge Fees For Playgrounds, Supplies

Posted August 17, 2001

— Most parents pay for their child's school lunch or dish out extra money for an extracurricular activity, but imagine having to fork out an extra 50 cents for your child to use the school library and another 50 cents for the playground, or to keep the film projector working. That is happening in the Harnett County school system.

Harnett Primary School has a very nice playground. Elementary school kids to help maintain it. Each one pays about $6 a year to use the playground, the library and other things that kids in other school districts get for free.

Some Harnett County parents say they are frustrated.

Brenda Weaver said she is fed up with paying school fees each year.

"To start with, I asked other parents who had kids in other counties and none of the other parents had to pay any fees, so then I called the school and they never called me back," said Weaver.

"Between the three kids, it's running about $70-$75 a year," said Weaver.

Weaver does not think parents should be asked to pay the fees.

"I think that is what my tax money goes for," said Weaver.

Parents have paid the fees for the last 25 years. Some say it amounts to a school-user tax.

"I agree with you, that is the proper term to use, but at the same time, the challenge is there for us to be able to do all that we can," said Superintendent Donald Andrews.

Library fees pay for books and labels and the labelers so kids can use the media center. If the light goes out on the overhead projector, or it needs a repair, the fees pay for it. If playground equipment breaks, the school uses the school fee fund. Money for repairs is not in the main budget.

"I wish that we could do away with it for the sake of the parents, but at this point in time it is a way to help with our needs," said Andrews.

There is one group that does not have to pay -- kids who qualify for for free and reduced lunches can get a waiver and avoid the fee.

High school kids pay even more because some labs and classes cost more.

If parents do not pay the fees, the school will bill them when their child graduates.


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