student smiling
student smiling

Elementary Course-Related Fees Questions & Answers

Course-Related Fees

Noncourse-Related Fees

Music 

Materials of Instruction

Waivers 

Obligations

Communications

Course-Related Fees

1. Will there be a designated maximum amount of money that can be charged for a course-related fee?

Response: Yes, Schools have received a list of maximum allowable fees for specific courses. Fees may be charged for items required for instruction or for demonstrating mastery of the curriculum, only if at least one of the following applies:

  • The fee covers ingredients used to make items eaten by the student (for example, making bread or butter).
  • The fee covers materials needed to make a product that becomes the personal property of the student (for example, an assignment in art class).
  • The fee covers items of personal use that become the property of the student for reasons of personal hygiene (for example, a music recorder).

Any allowable fee must be for the cost of the item only. No overcharge may be assessed to paying students to offset the costs absorbed by the school for students who are unable to pay.

2. Can schools charge for agenda books or planners? Can they be considered organizational items for students to purchase?

Response: Yes. Schools can charge for agenda books, if the agenda book is not part of a student’s grade, is not used as a hall pass, and is not required. For example, if students are encouraged to obtain agenda books as an organizational tool, but are not required to obtain the agenda book, a fee may be charged. In this instance, students should be allowed to use an alternative to record assignments. If the agenda book or planner is required, schools must provide it free of charge to students.

Noncourse-Related Fees

3. Are field trips governed by the course-related fees guidelines?

Response: No. Board of Education Policy IPD, Travel Study Programs, Field Trips and Student Organization Trips, and Montgomery County Public Schools Regulation IPD-RA, Travel Study Programs, Field Trips and Student Organization Trips, govern field trips.

Students may be charged fees for transportation and other costs related to a field trip, if participation is voluntary and an appropriate alternative is provided for students who choose not to participate. The amount charged should be the expense (bus, admission, etc.) divided by the number of students expected to attend. The final student cost may be rounded to the nearest dollar for ease of collection. No overcharge may be assessed to paying students to offset the costs absorbed by the school for students who are unable to pay.

4. Can schools still collect class party fees? Can parents be asked for donations to help pay for students who cannot afford to pay the class party fees?

Response: Yes. Schools can collect class party fees. Class party fees are not related to the curriculum. Decisions about such fees are a local school decision, made in collaboration with parent leadership. Schools should be sensitive to consequences a student might experience as a result of not paying a party fee.  Schools may request donations for class parties, if parent leaders agree.

5. Can we require students to bring in items for shared usage in the class? For example, can we require students to bring in multiple boxes of tissues?

Response: No. It is the school’s responsibility to provide school supplies, defined as building or office materials needed to operate schools. Tissues are included in this category.However, parent donations of items that enhance the classroom experience may be suggested, but not required. This includes donations made by individual parents, organized and donated by class parents, or organized and donated by the PTA.

6. Can teachers collect fees at the beginning of the school year for class activities that will take place throughout year?

Response: No, a general fee cannot be charged. Fees must be specific. If the class activity is required for instruction or for demonstrating mastery of the curriculum, a fee may not be charged unless at least one of the following applies:

  • The fee covers ingredients used to make items eaten by the student.
  • The fee covers materials needed to make a product that becomes the personal property of the student (for example, an art project).
  • The fee covers items of personal use that become the property of the student for reasons of personal hygiene (for example, a music recorder).

However, if a class activity is voluntary and an appropriate alternative is provided for students who do not choose to participate, a fee may be charged.

7. Is collecting a grade level fee for supplies, such as kindergarten, allowed?

Response: No. Collecting a grade level fee is not allowed. School supplies are defined as building or office materials needed to operate schools (e.g., paper towels, mops, etc.). It is the schools’ responsibility to provide school supplies, and no fee should be assessed or collected for this purpose.

Students may be expected to bring individual organizational tools and personal supplies from home. Schools have been provided guidelines for developing and communicating those lists.

Music

8. Are supplies needed to keep musical instruments in working order provided free of charge to all students in an instrumental music class?

Response: No.  Students are responsible for obtaining supplies needed to maintain an instrument they have borrowed from a school or rented or purchased from a store.

If students borrow a school’s instrument, the school should provide the instrument in working order. 

9. What is a “reasonable selection” of musical instruments that schools must have on hand?

Response: A reasonable selection is a limited supply of the different instruments used at that level, following national guidelines for instrumental music instruction. Students are encouraged to rent or purchase from a music store to ensure they will have the instrument they prefer.

Materials of Instruction

10. In the guidelines, crayons and glue sticks are listed under Materials of Instruction and also under Individual Student Organizational Tools and Personal Supplies. Is this a conflict?

Response: No. Local schools must consider how the items will be used and decide how to list them in accordance with the guidelines provided. In some instances, they may fall under both categories.

For example, items such as crayons and/or glue sticks may be considered either “Materials of Instruction” or “Individual Student Personal Supplies,” depending on their use as follows:

  • If use of a crayon or glue stick is necessary for the teacher to deliver the curriculum, or necessary for the student to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum, it is considered a material of instruction and must be provided in class sets.
  • If crayons or glue sticks are being used by student choice to accomplish a task in one of the multiple methods available and the student prefers to use personal materials, then crayons and glue sticks may be considered individual personal supplies and brought to school by the students as individual organizational tools and personal supplies.

11. Must three-ring binders, composition books, and loose-leaf paper be provided by the school?

Response: No. Three-ring binders and loose-leaf paper have been added to the list of Individual Student Personal Supplies. For composition books,local schools must consider how they will be used and decide how to list them, as described in the response to #10 above.

12. How should schools manage periodicals, such as Time for Kids?

Response: If a periodical is required for instruction or to demonstrate mastery, a fee may not be charged and the periodical must be provided in a class set or individually to all students. If a periodical is not required and is only suggested as a resource to have for independent reading or reference, students may purchase the item. Schools must consider carefully what consequences, if any, a student faces if that student does not have the periodical. In some instances, PTAs choose to pay for periodicals and they may do so.

13. When can teachers collect fees at the beginning of the school year for class activities that will take place throughout year?

Response: Fees must be specific. If the class activity is required for instruction or for demonstrating mastery of the curriculum, a fee may not be charged unless at least one of the following applies:

  • The fee covers ingredients used to make items eaten by the student.
  • The fee covers materials needed to make a product that becomes the personal property of the student (for example, an art project).
  • The fee covers items of personal use that become the property of the student for reasons of personal hygiene (for example, a music recorder).

A fee may be charged for a class activity only if the activity is not required for instruction or mastery, is voluntary, and an appropriate alternative is provided for students who do not choose to participate.

14. Can fees be charged for snacks and cooking ingredients for students?

Response: Yes. A fee may be charged for snacks or ingredients used in an activity unrelated to instruction or assessment and only if students have the opportunity to choose to participate. Schools should be sensitive to consequences a student might experience as a result of not paying for snacks or cooking ingredients.If items are required for instruction or needed to demonstrate mastery of the curriculum, a fee may not be charged unless it covers the cost of ingredients that will be used to produce an item the student will eat.

Waivers

15. How will schools know that the student is eligible for a waiver?

Response: No verification of hardship is required. However, schools must keep a record of waivers provided. Once a parent, student, or staff member requests a waiver for a student, the request is not questioned.

Obligations

16. If a student loses a required textbook, can the student be charged an obligation?

Response: Yes. When a student has lost, destroyed, or damaged property that the school has assigned to the student, a financial obligation is incurred.

Communication 

17. How are schools communicating with parents?

Response: Schools will send letters communicating changes to the existing practices regarding elementary school fees and supplies. Translations will be provided.

Montgomery County Public Schools

Contact MCPS

Call: 301-309-6277 | Spanish Hotline: 301-230-3073
E-mail: ASKMCPS@mcpsmd.org

Contact Employee & Retiree Services Center

Call: 301-517-8100 | E-mail: ersc@mcpsmd.org

©1995–2017 Montgomery County Public Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850

Click here to log in