REVIEW: August 2016 / Approved: Sue Holmes Acting Principal
Parent Payments Policy
This policy provides information regarding parent payments at Sherbrooke Community School. The policy covers payments for essential education items, optional education items and voluntary financial contributions that the school may request, and the parameters, terms and conditions within which these requests may be made.
The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 ensures the provision of free instruction in the standard curriculum program, and empowers school councils to charge for goods and services used in the course of instruction and to raise funds.
Free instruction includes learning and teaching, instructional supports, materials and resources, administration and facilities associated with the provision of the standard curriculum program. The standard curriculum program includes core learning and teaching activities associated with the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (AusVELS) and senior secondary certificates (VCE and VCAL, including VET programs).
The Department of Education and Training (DET) provides funding to schools through the Student Resource Package (SRP) and various programs. This includes funding for the standard curriculum program and associated education items, equipment and operational costs which are an integral part of the SRP.
School councils have the responsibility to develop policy and plans to allocate their overall resources – human, financial and physical – in accordance with the goals, targets and strategies outlined in their strategic plan. This includes the allocation of funding provided under the SRP, any other funding provided by DET and locally-raised funds.
School Council is responsible for developing a school-level policy which covers essential education items, optional extras and voluntary financial contributions. This school-level policy must meet the community’s expectations and be available to parents and guardians upon request. The school-level policy must keep parent payments to a minimum and must not exceed the cost of the relevant materials or services to the student.
The school-level policy will comply with the requirements of this DET policy.
4. Implementation and administration
Principals as executive officers of School Council are responsible for the implementation and administration of Parent Payment Policy developed by the School Council. This includes ensuring that the school-level policy is communicated within the school and that all staff are familiar with and adhere to it.
The Parent Payment Policyensures that:
- costs are kept to a minimum
- payment requests are clearly itemised under the three parent payment categories
- items that students consume or take possession of are accurately costed
- no student will be treated differently, denied access or refused instruction to the standard curriculum program for not making a payment or voluntary contribution
- access to enrolment or advancement to the next year level will not be withheld as a condition of payment for any of the three categories
- ensure that the status and details of any payments or non-payments by parents and guardians are confidential.
5. Communication with parents
All communication with parents about education items, including requests for payment, is fair and reasonable. Payment requests, letters or CASES 21 invoices for student materials and services charges must be accompanied by the following information:
- parent/guardians are required to provide essential education items for their students, and they have the option of purchasing these through the school or through a local supplier, where appropriate
- the availability of alternative payment options and an invitation to contact the principal if the parent wishes to discuss these
- details of how payments or contributions will be spent by the school
- a copy of the school-level policy is available upon request.
6.Camps Sports Excursion Fund (CSEF)
The school will advise parents and guardians in receipt of the Victorian Government’s Camps Sports and Excursion Fund (CSEF) thatthese funds will be used to cover the cost associated with camps, sports or excursions only and cannot be used for any other contributions.
Any portion of the CSEF not expended by the end of the year will be carried forward to cover the following year’s camps, sports or excursions for the eligible child.
If the student leaves the Victoria school system, the CSEF payment will remain with the school and may be used toward expenses for other family siblings, or school-incurred costs associated with operating camps, sports or excursion activities for students.
7. Categories of parent payments
In summary, school councils can request payments from parents for student materials and services charges, and for voluntary financial contributions. These payments fall into three categories:
- essential education items which parents and guardians are required to provide or pay the school to provide for their child (e.g. stationery and text books where required)
These items include:
- materials that the student takes possession of, including text books and student stationery
- materials for learning and teaching where the student consumes or takes possession of the finished articles (e.g. food technology, art, design technology)
- transport and entrance for camps and excursions which all students are expected to attend.
Parents and guardians have the option of purchasing equivalent materials from other sources.
If parents and guardians choose to provide equivalent materials, this should be done in consultation with the school, and items should meet the specifications provided by the school. However, there are some items (e.g. food provisions for food technolgy) which, due to their nature, may only be provided by the school.
- optional education items (or non-essential materials and services) are those that are provided in addition to the standard curriculum program, and which are offered to all students. These optional extras are provided on a user-pays basis and if parents and guardians choose to access them for students, they will be required to pay for them.
These items include:
- student computer printing for personal use
- extra-curricular programs or activities e.g. instrumental music
- school-based performances, productions and events
- school magazines, class photographs.
- voluntary financial contributions are for those items and services that parents or guardians are invited to make a donation to the school, for example for grounds maintenance, a library or building trust.
For any parent payments or voluntary financial contributions, the school will not:
- insist on payment prior to the commencement of the year in which the materials and services are to be used
- withhold access to enrolment or advancement to the next year level as a condition of payment of essential education items, optional extras or voluntary financial contributions
- issue more than one request for voluntary financial contributions and one reminder notice
- coerce or harass parents and guardians to obtain payment
- send invoices for unpaid essential education items or optional items accepted by parents more than once a term
- under any circumstances use collectors of any type to obtain any funds from parents and guardians
- the only exception will be for electives where there is a fee involved. If the elective has not been paid the student will be given an alternative program until the outstanding fee has been paid
The management of non-payment of essential education items or optional extras will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Appropriate alternative arrangements, such as payment by instalments is available.
Parents and guardians who experience difficulties providing or paying the school to provide essential education items, will be encouraged to make an appointment with the principal or other nominated senior staff member to discuss alternative payment methods.
9. Payment arrangements and non-payment
Parents and guardians will be provided with early notice of payment requests for essential education items, optional extras and voluntary financial contributions.
Costs will be kept to a minimum with payment requests/letters fair and reasonable. To further assist parents with payments, four payment options have been developed:
Option AFull amount at the beginning of Term 1
Option BMonthly payments debited from credit card (pre arranged)
Option CDirect deposit into school bank account
Option DOther payment arrangements
This school will ensure that:
- students are not treated differently, denied access to the standard curriculum program, or refused instruction on the basis of payments not being made for education items, services or voluntary financial contributions
- all students have access to the standard curriculum program
- parents and guardians are provided with an alternative option for their children if they choose not to participate in an excursion or camp
- invoices for unpaid essential education items or optional items accepted by parents are generated and distributed on a regular basis, but not more than once a term
- only the initial invitation for voluntary financial contributions and one reminder notice is sent to all parents and guardians
- under no circumstances can collectors of any type, including debt collectors, be used by schools to obtain any funds from parents and guardians.
The school will ensure any record of payments or contributions by parents and guardians is kept confidential. The public identification of students or their parents and guardians who have or have not made a payment or financial contribution is unacceptable and will not occur in any circumstances.
This policy was last ratified by School Council in……………………………………. and should by reviewed by ………………………………………………
………………………………………………….School Council President