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Schools get tough on unpaid fees

CALGARY — The Calgary Board of Education is dealing with a high number of unpaid school fees, and is now sending those fees to a collection agency.

The board is trying to recover $1 million in unpaid fees from parents of about 4,000 students for the 2011-12 school year. Unpaid fees include those for busing, supplies and lunchtime supervision.

Spokesman Richard Peter says parents have been given plenty of chances, including multiple letters of warning.

He says only when the accounts are more than 200 days overdue will the board call in the collection agency.

Lori Nagy of Edmonton Catholic Schools says if their parents don’t pay then the school absorbs the cost.

“If they can’t pay the full fee, then sometimes they can pay part of it or they can reduce it and pay a small monthly fee.”

The move by the Calgary board has some parents shaking their heads.

“I think that’s really nasty,” said Terry McAllister. “There’s got to be other ways to get the money.”

“I think that the public education dollars should help with that,” said Barbara Jaffray. The board says it does show compassion for those who can’t afford the fees.

“We do an awful lot to make sure that we do what we can to collect and make allowance for those people who simply are unable to pay,” McClintock said.

“There are many ways for parents who can’t afford them to say ‘I can’t afford them,’ and to be let out of the fees.”

 
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