You can’t collect child care fees if you can’t provide child care. That is one of the pandemic-related reasons that Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has collected only 24% ($345,000) of the $1.4 million in fees expected to come in for the 2020-21 school year.

District 65 has been on remote learning since school began in August, so there are no fee-based before and after school child care programs, and also less revenue collection for other items such as classroom and activity fees, technology fees and transportation fees.

Child care fees have taken the biggest hit. Out of more than $750,000 budgeted, only .5% (less than $2,000) has been collected. Those fees are for program expenses, but even with before and after school care not running during remote learning, child care staff members remain employed. COVID-19 has forced the district to postpone two efforts to reopen in-person school, and is now aiming for a third date, so the hope has been all along that the child care staff will be needed.

In a memo to the School Board, Kathy Zalewski, the district’s business manager, says that “even if in-person learning resumes, students participating in the District’s before and after school program … will not occur at the usual level.” Some students will continue to learn remotely at home, even if school buildings are re-opened.

District Spokesperson Melissa Messinger says the lost revenue is reflected in this year’s budget, but cannot be recovered. She adds “if the district continues in remote learning, the loss will only grow.”

Messinger tells Evanston Now that “the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges.” She says the district remains committed to sound financial management and academic instruction, including “our commitment to equity and supporting our most vulnerable students during this very challenging time.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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