Parents of Galesburg students are being told they have to pay what they owe or their debt will be turned over to a collection agency.
Galesburg parents have until Sept. 15 to pay off their share of $216,000 in old student fees. Jennifer Hamm, the assistant superintendent, said after that the district will call a collection agency.
“We don't want families harassed,” Hamm said. “We just want the debt paid so we can put that money into services for our students.”
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Hamm said the district has no choice but to collect the debt from parents because it needs money for its schools. The district cut $2.6 million from its budget last year.
Hamm said the district will never see the $7 million the state has shortchanged it over the years. Illinois prorated state aid payments and skipped mandated payments for expenses like transportation over the past several years.
Hamm said low-income families won't have to pay for any old student fees. Children who qualify for free lunch in the district don't pay any students fees. Unpaid lunch fees are also being forgiven.
Hamm said parents will soon get a letter explaining what they owe and how to pay.
“The feedback we're getting from parent is 'What's fair is fair',” Hamm said. “They say 'We've paid our registration fees for our students. If I had to pay it, then everyone has to pay what is owed'.”
Hamm said $216,000 may not seem like a lot, but that's four teacher salaries in Galesburg.