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SCHOOLS FEELING PINCH OF FEE-WAIVER RULING

Court-ordered compliance with school fee waiver provisions "could change the face of education as we know it," Granite Superintendent Loren G. Burton told his board Tuesday.

As schools register students for the 1992-93 school year, the effects of a 3rd District Court order are being felt, said Assistant Granite Superintendent Riley O'Neil. The court injunction issued in July ordered the State Office of Education to enforce provisions that require the waiver of all school fees for any eligible student.Many schools had been waiving only the fees for books and other essential items. The court order says that any fee for a school-sponsored activity, including uniforms, camps, trips and many others, must be waived if a student meets criteria. Students eligible for free school lunch are considered candidates for other waivers, as well as those whose families are experiencing unusual economic stress.

Although the full impact can't be assessed for several weeks, O'Neil said that in the first day of fall enrollment, about a hundred more Granite students sought fee waivers than last year. The total for the 1991-92 year was 3,294.

Undoubtedly, there will be more requests this year than last," he said. "Whether it will be dramatic, we'll have to wait and see."

Many discussions are being held about the possible economic ramifications as schools lose more of the money that has traditionally been used to pay for activities, O'Neil said.

Granite and other Wasatch Front districts are meeting to compare notes, Burton said.

Granite may be better off than some other districts because it had been coming closer to meeting the waiver requirements in the past, said board member Lynn Davidson. Some districts may see their fee income fall by 400 percent to 500 percent as they come into compliance with the law, he said.

Later in Tuesday's meeting, Davidson suggested the district study the possibility of transferring some sports to Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation to help lessen the stress.

Board member Denis Morrill said he would "like to see all fees done away with. They are a hidden, pernicious tax."