Leyden schools hire collections agency
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:17AM
FRANKLIN PARK — he Board of Education at Leyden District 212 has decided to get tough on families that owe it money.
On July 12 the board voted to hire a collection agency and take part in a state government program.
“Right now there is $200,000 of uncollected debt,” Chief Financial Officer Tom Janateas said. “Some will get paid down during the school year. We expect probably half of that will still be with us at the end of the year.”
The owed money comes from unpaid registration fees by students, lost books or calculators and in a few instances from students who were found out to live outside the school district and thus owed tuition.
“In years past, we had $10,000 or $30,000,” Janateas said. “It wasn’t a great concern. Since the economy has tanked, that number has grown each year. We felt it was necessary to get the money that is owed us.”
In past year the district would send out letters to families and followed up. The district was reasonably successful up until two years ago.
“They weren’t going to get in trouble if they didn’t pay us first,” Janateas said. “There wasn’t enough teeth in our process to incentivize them to settle up with us.”
In response, the board plans to hire Merchants Credit Guide of Chicago to attempt to collect owed money. Those who don’t pay within a few months find their credit rating reduced. The company charges 25 percent of anything it manages to collect.
The board also voted to take part in a program run by the Illinois comptroller. Residents who are owed money by the state such as income tax refunds could find the money being diverted to District 212.
First, the district has to create an appeals process for parents. Janateas anticipates the new collections efforts will begin in October.