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Materials and services charges – governing councils

In your role on a governing/school council you’ll need to take part in a vote to approve the school’s materials and services charge.

A materials and services charge is an amount charged to parents for the cost of the items and services provided to the student so they can complete their curriculum. The charge does not cover the following costs as these are covered by the department:

  • staff costs (teaching or ancillary)
  • teacher resources
  • facilities (includes maintenance)
  • school operating costs (for example, utilities).

Who approves the charge

The council approves the charge. The principal is responsible for determining the items and services that are included in the charge and the total amount of the charge. The principal will then seek the council’s approval. The principal will guide you through what’s involved at each stage.

Some finance-specific terms

Before you vote to approve the school’s materials and services charge, it’s helpful to understand some specific terms:

The department sets the standard sum in September each year. There is a separate and different standard sum amount for a primary student and secondary student.

The department sets a standard sum for the materials and services charge, but it’s not always the amount charged by a school – sometimes the actual costs are more than the standard sum. The school’s materials and services charge should reflect this.

If the school’s materials and services charge is more than standard sum, the council will need to consider if this gap will be voluntary to pay, or if you will make it legally recoverable.

What happens and when

The principal and school staff

  • Meet with staff to decide what needs to be included in the charge and calculate the amount.
  • The school needs to confirm with the department that their proposed charge does not include items and services that can’t be charged.
  • The school sends a copy of the proposed charge to all parents.
  • The school invites parents to a council meeting where the charge will be discussed. This needs to happen before the council vote on the charge.

The council and the community

  • The council meets the school community at a council meeting. This is an opportunity to provide more detail about the charge, and to get feedback from the community.
  • After discussion with the school community, the council will vote on whether to approve the proposed charge.
  • If the approved charge is below or the same as the standard sum, nothing else needs to be done.
  • If the approved charge is above the standard sum, the council need to consider if this gap will be voluntary to pay, or if they want to make it legally recoverable.
  • If council want to make it legally recoverable, they need to poll the community to find out if the majority of support making the charge legally recoverable.

Why make the gap legally recoverable

Making the gap legally recoverable will mean the school – on behalf of the council – will be able to recover the debt if a charge is not paid.

To do this the council will need to take a number of steps, including polling the school community. The principal and school staff will guide you through this process if required.

Contact

Governing Councils, Office for Education and Early Childhood

Phone: 8226 9617
Emaildecd.sitegovernance [at] sa.gov.au