The RVS fee schedule attempts to balance family budgets with programming needs

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Rocky View Schools (RVS) approved tuition for the 2022-2023 school year on May 12 with the goal of keeping costs to families as low as possible without sacrificing too much on the programs offered.

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However, some trade-offs had to be made as schools were asked not to introduce optional course fees of more than four percent.

74 requests were made in connection with optional courses, where schools requested increases in those fees to more than 4 percent, but ultimately the school department kept them at that threshold, RVS finance director Steve Thomas said at the May 12 board meeting .

“One of the key pieces was the optional course fees. This year inflationary pressures have been factored in,” Thomas said.

“We have reduced this to a maximum of 4 percent. The biggest cost pressures that we’re seeing are really in construction and food programs where utility costs are really high,” he said.

“There might be some challenges with some of these programs, but it’s good to identify the specific areas of concern.”

What impact this will have will vary by school and program offered, but chief executive Fiona Gilbert said it doesn’t feel right to reduce the quality of the program in schools.

“I’ll support (the charges) somewhat reluctantly, if I’m being honest. I realize we’re trying to pull off that balancing act, but I’m not entirely sure we’re at that point,” she said.

“My concern is that trying to find that balance for parents will potentially have a negative impact on some of the programs and course offerings that our schools are able to offer.”

Trustee Norma Lang said from discussions she attended with school boards that she felt the fees presented were the right balance.

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“This is a tricky one when trying to balance maintaining the quality of all programs … with staying within cost and reviewing potential changes.” The feedback I heard was to walk the middle ground and that represents that,” she said.

Trustee Judi Hunter voted in favor of the fee schedule but said she thought it was important to think about what needs to be done over the next year.

“We need to watch out for inflationary costs and maybe consider a change for next year. 4 percent may not be the percentage we would aim for given supply chain issues and inflation,” she said.

105 new fees will be introduced across the school division over the next year. 101 relate to activities, after-school programs and sales. Four new travel fees are introduced.

Around the 2,400 charges across the division, Thomas said the majority remain the same.

“In relation to the existing totals, almost 70 percent of the fees do not change at all, so are kept at the status quo,” said Thomas.

“Another 16 percent is within expected parameters, so no major changes.”

191 fees are increasing by over 5 percent, mostly related to transportation and use of facilities outside of schools, he said.

“Many of these relate to increased provider costs, whether it be transportation or increased fees at different venues. That’s about 8 percent of the total fee structure,” Thomas said.

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The majority of travel fees will not change. 71 out of 83 fees remain the same, but there are five proposed increases ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent related to higher costs for service providers.

The school department is waiting to release confirmed fall travel fees in case travel restrictions change, Thomas said.

“We have kept these separate and will monitor the restrictions as they progress,” he said.

“Travel outside the province is currently still restricted. Fees are there, set and approved, but if restrictions are still in place, those fees are not published on school websites.”

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