Under the Ontario Ministry of Education Guideline for Fees for Learning Materials and Activities, fees cannot be charged for materials students need to graduate, such as textbooks or basic course supplies. The changes are intended to ensure that each student has an equal opportunity to benefit from the education system without being required to pay a fee. Fees may be charged for extra-curricular activities or enhanced materials beyond what is necessary to meet curriculum expectations. This is not unique to YRDSB and affects all school boards across the province.
What will this mean for students?
Secondary schools have always charged fees for participation in co-curricular activities, including athletics programs; and this will continue. Students at the secondary level may see an increase in fees for extra-curricular athletics as they will be responsible for a larger portion of the team costs. The cost increase is due to the reallocation of Board funding to support curriculum needs, such as course packs, materials and supplies, for which fees were previously collected from students.
A school activity fee, with a ceiling of $50 per secondary student, will support activities that build and strengthen the sense of community in our schools. This voluntary fee will subsidize such things as school spirit events, team transportation, dances and guest speakers for the school community. To further help offset activity and transportation costs, school communities can also fundraise.
Field trips will be considered optional enhancements, with associated participation fees. Students who do not participate in field trips will be provided with an alternative program at the school.
The scope of some school projects may also be different. For example, to achieve a learning expectation in a tech class, students may build a bird house, with materials provided by the school, instead of building a Muskoka chair, for which fees would have previously been collected from students.
Enhanced materials that are voluntary enrichments beyond what is necessary to meet the curriculum expectations may be made available as an option for students. For example, in a photography course, the school would provide cameras and paper for general use to meet the learning expectations; however, students may choose to bring their own camera, rent a higher grade camera or use higher grade paper for a fee which reflects actual costs.
Why are these changes taking place?
Given our province’s current fiscal situation, funding allocations and grants have changed. Our Board has made great efforts to reduce the effect on students and continue to support student achievement and well-being in schools across our region. The changes are intended to ensure that each student has an equal opportunity to benefit from the education system without being required to pay a fee.
The York Region District School Board is committed to equity and excellence in education for all students. We will endeavour to continue to provide high quality programs in all of our schools.