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Rock Hill Schools Offers Refunds For $25 Enrollment Fee

http://66.225.205.104/LM20111115.mp3

It costs money to attend public school in Rock Hill or at least it did. Two years ago, the school board approved a $25 enrollment fee to help offset budget cuts. But now there's a surplus, so the school district will refund the fee as long as you ask for it. Two years ago, Rock Hill Schools were preparing for big budget cuts. The school board decided to furlough employees, cut programs and charge families fees for extracurricular activities, but also $25 just to enroll. Board Chairman Bob Norwood felt like the district had little choice. "We had researched other revenue raising measures throughout the area, state, region and it appeared charging an academic fee was something other districts were doing successfully," says Norwood. Fort Mill has long collected enrollment fees. State law allows districts to collect what's stipulated as "reasonable fees." But collecting them didn't prove so easy for Rock Hill Schools. Last year, the district collected just over half of the $250,000 the fee was expected to raise. But planning for another rough year the school board decided to stay with the fee again this year. The collection rate was slightly higher. But then something unexpected happened. The district is now actually expected to have a $4 million surplus because of extra money from the state, energy savings and over budgeting in some areas. The school board has decided to refund the enrollment fee. "You can't go with your hand out to the public and then receive money that you didn't expect and not refund it," says Norwood. But parents have to actually ask for the refund. Principals have notified families with automated calls that they can get the $25 back if they fill out a form they can get at their child's school or online. Parents have until the summer to ask for the refund.