Fines policy saves Washougal School District money

It is estimated that the school district saved more than $7,000 this past year

After years of textbooks being lost and sports uniforms going MIA, the Washougal School District decided enough was enough.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, the district began using an electronic system to scan textbooks, increasing communication with students, parents and coaches, and prohibiting students with a missing uniform or equipment to participate in sports until the items were returned. Transcripts were not released to graduating seniors unless all fines were paid.

This has resulted in more than $7,000 worth of fines and fees paid, and lost items returned as of June.

The district has always required that items such as books, sports equipment, calculators checked out to students be returned in a timely manner. But this past year, it has made efforts to communicate more directly with parents when items checked out to students have not been returned, according to Superintendent Dawn Tarzian. These communications have come by e-mail and letter. Next year, messages on report cards will be added.

“The School Board works to be thoughtful and vigilant stewards of the public dollars allocated to the Washougal School District,” Tarzian said. “They expressed concern about the resources lost when items checked out to students were not returned.”

In addition, the district also wanted to hold students accountable and have them take personal responsibility for items that they borrowed. Tarzian said this belief was supported by a visioning process conducted in 2012, where one community goal was to ensure that every student leaves high school ready to assume adult responsibilities.

“(This) confirmed the importance of holding students accountable for returning items or paying for the replacement of items that have been lost during their school-aged years so that they are ready for this adult responsibility,” she said.

Overall parent response has been positive, Tarzian added. To ease the financial burden, a payment plan can be arranged.

“Many parents have appreciated timely notification that items have not been turned in and the district’s willingness to work with families if items were lost some time ago,” she said. “Parents have indicated that the district’s work to communicate clearly with the students that they must return all items checked out to them and the act of consistently holding students accountable will help create a new level of responsibility.”