School districts working to close budget gaps are increasingly requiring parents to pay fees for their children’s textbooks, lab materials, computers, and after-school activities.
It’s a regrettable but widespread trend, says Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of advocacy, policy and communications at the School Superintendents Association. “The recession lasted longer and cut deeper than anyone thought it would,” Hunter says. “Districts try to charge as little as possible, because it’s not popular. It’s a last resort.”