School district to absorb cost of background checks for volunteers
By Crystal Wylie Register News Writer
School districts will be charged $10 for every criminal background check requested for volunteers beginning July 1 as a result of state budget cuts in May by the General Assembly.
This decision could cost the Madison County Schools up to $10,000 a year.
The district regularly uses volunteers for anything from helping a teacher in a classroom, helping in the office or a parent going on a field trip with a child’s class, said Erin Stewart, Madison County Schools spokesperson.
Volunteers can be any family member, guardian, community member or person in general who wishes to help for any reason during the school year.
Anyone who will be interacting with students, who are not employed by the district, are required to have both volunteer training and a background check.
Approximately 1,000 background checks are completed annually for volunteers who have not previously had the required volunteer training and a background check, Stewart said.
However, beginning last year, the district may send a renewal form to those on the volunteer master list, which is made up people who have completed both requirements. The volunteers must return the form to the school district office by Friday, otherwise they will have to repeat the training and background check to volunteer the next school year.
Completion of the renewal forms will help the district be efficient, Stewart said, and there are no plans to limit the number of volunteers.
Currently, funds are budgeted for items such as background checks, she said.
The Courier-Journal reported that the state processed more than 217,000 criminal records reports for schools statewide last year, according to Laurie Dudgeon, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
“For nearly 20 years, we have provided free criminal record reports for personnel and volunteers at Kentucky’s public and private schools,” she said. “While we had hoped to continue providing this important service for free, deep cuts to the Judicial Branch budget have required us to make difficult decisions in order to balance our budget.”
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.