The Henderson County School District is considering adding a technology fee for middle school students.

This fall, all students at North Middle and South Middle will be supplied Chromebooks that they can use in the classroom and take home for further instruction.

With students taking the devices home, there’s always a chance that the Chromebook might get damaged and need repairs. Having a technology fee would help offset repair costs to the school system if a device is broken, said Brian Bailey, the district’s director of technology.

Bailey addressed the topic at the Henderson County Board of Education during a work session held Monday night. There was no action taken, just discussion on the logistics of enacting a fee.

Students or staff who take a device home will be responsible for covering the cost of the Chromebook if it is lost or stolen. On the other hand, if a repair is needed, the technology fee would allow the school system to cover the cost.

The proposed technology fee would be in the $25 to $30 range, he said. This would be for all middle school students.

He noted that the fee could be structured for monthly payments of $5 a month to help families.

Board Member Sally Sugg said it pains her to charge the neediest of families a technology fee, but understands it would be necessary. She said she would approve adding the technology fee if every effort is made to have different payment plans possible. She added that maybe the school system could find community donors to help with scholarships for families in need, particularly if they have multiple children.

Board Members Mike Waller and Wes Smith both agreed that a charge should be levied.

Board Chair Lisa Baird brought up that many parents complain that their students can’t take some textbooks home with them, even though high school students must pay a textbook fee.

Henderson County High students pay a $50 textbook fee, though students on free and reduced lunch can have this fee waived. There are also additional fees for some students, which range from Advanced Placement fees to overdue library fines to choir fees. Middle school students at both schools already pay a $5 science fee.

Baird said she would likely approve the technology fee, but said she would like to reassess the textbook and technology fee once HCHS students are provided one-to-one devices to take home like the middle school students.

Board attorney Beth Bird said she would look into if the fee could be waived for free and reduced lunch students.

Jefferson Elementary: The Local Planning Committee will emphasize that replacing Jefferson Elementary should take top priority listing on the next district facilities plan, said Assistant Superintendent Steve Steiner. He noted it would be the only thing the LPC plans to place in the A1 category, though there are several other school improvement projects that need to be addressed.

Part of the reason the school system and school board advocated for a nickel tax was to generate enough revenue to replace Jefferson Elementary after the current effort at building a new Spottsville Elementary is completed.

LED lighting projects: Indoor lighting projects have been completed at Cairo, Chandler and Niagara, said Billy Austill, director of maintenance. Upgrades are being done to the parking lot lighting at East Heights, which is part of a matching grant project with Kentucky Utilities. The Henderson County Road Department has worked out a deal with the school system that allows it to borrow a bucket truck for the outdoor lighting project.

Capital projects: The board approved a slew of items related to capital projects, including:

  • documents for the A.B. Chandler chiller replacement project
  • documents for the East Heights partial roof and partial asphalt replacement project
  •  an architect agreement for the North Middle School bleacher replacement project
  • an architect agreement for the HCHS office enclosure, miscellaneous repairs and tennis court resurface project 
  •  an architect agreement for the HCHS transportation building parking lot repairs project 
  • an architect agreement for the South Middle asphalt track repair and auditorium light replacement project 
  • an architect agreement for the Bend Gate parent pickup lane replacement project 

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