School fees; a clear list for the next school year

Frais scolaires; une liste claire pour la prochaine rentrée

Deploring the blur around the school fees, the Education minister, Jean-François Roberge is committed to ensuring that parents have a clear list of what their child’s school may require them to pay for the next school year, in September.

“The blur has cost us more than $ 150 million. It is finished”, was launched by the minister Roberge during the presentation of the draft law 12 on Thursday. Its main objective is to mark up these costs and make the school boards and the government, “in the shelter of another prosecution.”

For some parents, these new measures could result in cost savings. For example, the bill forbids schools to charge registration fees or administrative fees.

Fees may apply for transportation service by bus at lunchtime or for the supervision of pupils who eat at school, but they must be reasonable. “There will be a maximum to avoid excesses,” says the minister.

The bill does not provide the list of items that will be charged to parents, but it will appear in the regulations which will be adopted by the suite. In the press conference, the minister still expressed his intentions, in speaking of several objects that have been debated in the schools, as to who should pay for them (see the table).

For getting to decide, Mr. Roberge said to be supported on the online consultation conducted in January and approximately 33 000 people participated. Of this number, 83 % are parents with at least one child attending public school.

“They do ask us not to change whilst the bill. They want it to be more clear. They want it to be a little more fair” assesses Mr. Roberge.

Tablet

The digital tools used in schools will be supervised. “When a school makes the choice to put aside the school books, paper for use of digital textbooks, at this time, the tool, whether the tablet or the computer, must be provided to the school for the school. However, this does not mean that the student can leave with, and that’s the nuance that’s very important. We are not going to buy ipads and give them to the teenagers and children,” said Mr. Roberge.

The only case where a technological tool can be paid by the parent, that is, when the student is enrolled in a particular program in programming by example. In its draft law, the minister leaves the schools free to charge the parents for all of their specific programs (sports-studies, arts-studies), etc.

For educational field trips made in the framework of a course, the previous government had ruled that they were to be paid by the school. Mr. Roberge indicated rather that the outputs are approved by the school board will be invoiced to the parents. Its government is committed, however, to offer free, two outputs per primary school pupil and secondary school.

Recall that last year, the school boards have agreed to pay $ 153 million to thousands of parents after a class action lawsuit that focused on fees charged in too since 2009.

The ex-minister of Education Sébastien Proulx had issued a directive to mark up these charges, but according to Dr. Roberge, “it doesn’t, it is an admission of failure”. He wishes now that his bill and the regulations that will accompany it will be in force for the July 1, 2019, in time for the preparation of lists of school for the next school year.

The Fédération des commissions scolaires hope that this bill, which was “widely expected” to be investigated as a priority so that schools are ready for September. Same readiness on the side of the Fédération des comités de parents, who believes that it is”a step in the right direction” in order to clarify the concept of free education.

The Movement of The school as a whole is disappointed, given that schools will be able to continue to provide “project-specific selective up to $ 3000” per year.

What should be free and provided by the school:

  • Textbooks
  • Tablet or electronic equipment
  • Scientific calculator
  • Novels
  • Dictionaries
  • Grammars
  • Laboratory equipment
  • Musical Instruments
  • Art materials
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Headphones

This may continue to be billed:

  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Workbooks
  • Agenda
  • Padlock
  • Registration to a particular project (Sports-Studies, etc)
  • Educational field trips

These will be invoiced to the parents, despite the directive of the previous liberal government so that they are free of charge.

This directive has been “more or less followed by the schools”, according to Jean-François Roberge, who undertakes to provide, possibly, two outputs free per student “throughout the primary and secondary levels”.

It is estimated that, in the end, the school boards will have a ” shortfall “of 0 to ten’s of millions to the max”.

Last June, his predecessor, the liberal Sébastien Proulx, had attempted to clarify what it is allowed or not to charge the parents.

He had issued a ministerial directive which specified what fees could be charged to parents, in the wake of a collective action brought against 68 school boards for a fee, abusive.

An amicable agreement had been reached with the school boards referred to, which are now in the obligation to repay $153 million.

The ministerial directive provided, inter alia, that the field trips organized in a pedagogical context were to be free, just like admission to school and for specific programs.

No detailed list of items to get free school had been provided, since each school board was keeping “the opportunity to interpret the law”, said the minister at the time.

The school partners were then quick to denounce the confusion that had been going on, according to them, although they acknowledged that progress had been made.

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