Financial office takes steps to reduce obligations

Nov. 11, 2006, midnight | By Soraya Chanyasubkit | 17 years, 7 months ago

New efforts to notify students of outstanding obligations

After high levels of student debt, totaling $109,000 at the end of last school year, Financial Secretary Donna Franklin has implemented new procedures to notify students of their financial obligations and encourage them to pay their debt before their senior year.

Last year's obligations were the largest since Franklin's three years at Blair. For the first time, she sent letters to rising seniors over the summer to notify them about their obligations. Last year, 30 seniors who did not pay off their obligations before graduation were prohibited from walking across the stage at the commencement ceremony and did not receive their diplomas, according to Franklin. Currently, over 200 seniors have yet to pay over $23,000 in debt.

Franklin also sent out a list of athletes who owe money to the school to all the coaches. According to school policy, students are not allowed to participate in sports or any extracurricular activity if they have not paid their obligations. Franklin said that the athletic department has been "semi-cooperative," because some students were placed on payment plans, but so far these students have come only once to pay. Franklin is preparing for winter sports to begin, where a new group of athletes will need to be reminded to pay their obligations.

Field hockey coach Brook Franceschini stressed the importance of paying obligations to her team because she believes that athletes, as role models, need to take ownership of their responsibilities.

This year, the Blair administration also implemented a new Homecoming policy to keep track of students who still owed obligations. Homecoming tickets were sold at the financial office instead of at the Student Government Association (SGA) office, as in past years, and tickets were not sold at the dance. A reminder to all students to pay their debt was included in every SGA announcement regarding the dance.

Despite the change, some Blazers were able to avoid paying the obligations. Junior Ben Kastner, who owes $215 for IDs and sports gear, asked a friend who was not going to the dance to buy a ticket for him.

Nonetheless, the total obligation decreased from $84,500 at the beginning of the school year to $69,000 after Homecoming as of Oct. 26.

With the new ID policy in place, Franklin hopes that the total debt will not significantly increase again. The majority of obligations tend to come from IDs and textbooks, said Franklin. In total, Blazers owe $32,000 for IDs alone.

Franklin discourages seniors from paying off their obligations at the last minute, when debt is often well over $200 and difficult to pay in time for graduation.

Their own obligation policy

Coaches have taken obligations into their own hands, as well.
Volleyball coach Heather Amell said she will not allow any girl on her
team to play in the next game if she has not paid off her obligation.
Field hockey coach Brook Franceschini takes a bigger step and says for every five dollars owed, the student will have to run a mile. Everyone has paid up.

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Soraya Chanyasubkit. Soraya Chanyasubkit loves her name, Thailand, penguins, eating, making fun of people and music. She is silly, mean, and friendly. (The last two qualities are in no way of being contradictory.) She most likely hates you. And will willing and loudly say so. More »

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