As children across Calgary return to school this week, their parents will be shelling out hundreds of dollars in fees — especially if they’re in the public system.
Parents of Calgary Board of Education students will pay much more than those with children in the Catholic school system for bus and lunch-hour supervision fees.
CBE parents have to pay $330 for the bus and $280 for noon-hour fees. By comparison, Calgary Catholic school district parents will pay $215 for bus and $80 for supervision.
Jessica Lane, who has children in both school districts, can’t believe the difference in costs.
“I have four kids, so school fees become astronomical between supplies and lunch fees and, you know, all the added programs that they have,” she said.
“I think it should be sort of uniform, I know they're kind of different systems but I think it's outrageous that, you know, certain school systems charge such a ridiculous amount more.”
In addition to bus and lunch fees, Calgary schools charge a fee for materials and resources — ranging from $15 to $50 per student — as well as fees for musical instrument rentals and special activities, such as field trips.
Parents struggling to make those payments can apply for a fee waiver.
Some schools recommend laptops, tablets
Some parents of high school students are also feeling the pressure to buy laptops and other electronic devices.
CBE doesn't list laptops or tablets as requirements, but some high schools recommended them.
"Teachers are having a hard time keeping track of what students use their devices for," said Frank Bruseker, former president of the Alberta Teachers' Association.
"If you have a class of 35 students, it's really tough to monitor.…You actually have to go around behind them, stand behind the student, look at what they're doing."
Bruseker said having electronics in the class is likely inevitable because the province is moving toward having all resources and text books in a digital format.