Keeping costs down

Textbook rental fees will not increase this school year for Seymour Community School Corp.

The school district is working to lower overall back-to-school costs for families and will eliminate extra classroom fees that have been charged in the past, officials said.

At the five elementary schools, book rental fees will remain the same per grade level as last year; and at the middle school, rates have gone down a little, said Steve Nauman, corporation business manager.

“Basically, we didn’t adopt any books,” Nauman said. “We plan to reduce rates again next year at all levels if possible.”

Book rental costs for the 2016-17 school year for elementary-age students range from a low of $10 for preschool materials and supplies to a high of $78 for first-grade reading, math, art, music and social studies books.

“There are no additional fees being charged only the actual cost of book rental and the cost of purchasing consumable workbooks,” Nauman said.

For the Sixth Grade Center and grades seven and eight at Seymour Middle School, there is a flat book rental fee of $90 which includes literature, language arts, math, social studies, science and health. Seventh and eighth grade also has a music textbook rental fee included.

Textbook rental fees are figured using a state formula that allows schools to charge families 25 percent of a book’s purchase cost to rent it.

“We really have no control. You can’t go higher,” he said.

Families must pay 100 percent of the cost for workbooks or consumable materials, because they are only used once, he added.

Once a book has been rented for six years, the corporation can choose to charge an amount less than 25 percent if it chooses.

“This is something we plan to look at in the future for some books, since we are no longer adopting books in most subject areas,” Nauman said.

That is because the district has gone to a 1:1 technology platform in recent years where all students in grades six through 12 are issued Chromebooks with the capability to have textbooks loaded onto them.

All students in fifth-grade will be issued Chromebooks this year.

Most of the cost of purchasing the Chromebooks is being paid for through a common school loan, Nauman said.

In past years, classroom fees have been included in book rental fees for the purchase of miscellaneous items such as notebooks and other supplies.

State statute, however, was changed, so that those fees can not be charged unless students can use the items again. An example would be a science class fee for lab goggles.

Middle school students will be charged a science lab fee to help pay for science lab equipment and materials. That fee is $4.57 for sixth-graders, $2.50 for seventh grade and $2.15 for eighth grade.

At Seymour High School, book rental fees vary not by grade level, but depend on what classes a student takes, and can cost hundreds of dollars.

Often, students enrolled in AP and dual credit classes are charged 100 percent of the cost to purchase a book instead of renting it, because college’s require a specific book to receive college credit for the course. Students are then able to keep the books instead of returning them.

“At the high school we have removed probably 90 percent of classroom fees,” Nauman said. “The only fees besides book rental being charged are for labs and vocational classes.”

Nauman said he expects all the classroom fees, corporation wide, will be eliminated next year.

“They’re just hard to justify, legally,” he said.

By the numbers

Seymour Community School Corp. 2016-17 book rental fees

Preschool;$10

Kindergarten;$58

Grade 1;$78

Grade 2;$61

Grade 3;$63

Grade 4;$37

Grade 5;$57

Grades 6-8;$90

Grades 9-12;varies depending on courses taken

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.