Franklin County Public Schools will pick up the tab for background checks on parents and other adults who volunteer to help students.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to pay the $10 fee for each state background check, rather than pass the cost on to volunteers.
The Administrative Office of the Courts announced this spring that because of budget cuts, it would start charging schools for background checks beginning July 1.
“Thinking about how much our volunteers do for our school system, our schools and our children, I just personally cannot say, ‘I want you to pay $10 to come and help us in our schools,’” Superintendent Chrissy Jones said before the vote.
Jones said the school district conducts background checks on about 2,000 parent volunteers each year.
The number is high because some schools would send forms to all parents at the beginning of the year, and many who were interested in volunteering never followed through, she said
Schools will now only conduct background checks on parents who are serious about offering help, she said.
FCPS will conduct background checks on each volunteer once every three years to further reduce the number. Jones said district officials would create a database of volunteers to eliminate duplications – parents who give their time to more than one school, for example.
The new fee applies only to volunteers. Employees must still pay for their own, more extensive background checks, Jones said.
School districts across the state have begun to take action to pay for the background checks.
When the Administrative Office of the Courts first announced the $10 fee, Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes said several school districts indicated that they couldn’t afford it and would require volunteers to pay.
Since then, most school districts have opted to pick up the $10 tab.
Half of the state’s school districts have returned their annual policy updates to the association. All but three have opted to pay the fees, and most are using the same three-year cycle adopted Monday by Franklin County, he said.
Hughes declined to identify the three school districts that are requiring volunteers to pay for their background checks.