Friday, September 10, 2010

Fun with Fees

All parents know the start of school means there’s some ‘homework’ for us parents, too. I’m referring to the blizzard of contact, medical, permission, and other forms and a curriculum/class rules page for each class (for those of us with kids in middle to high school range) to review and fill out. And then there are the packets of Home & School information, which in recent years they have (thankfully) begun sending out via mail in advance of the first day of school, to reduce the chances they’ll be lost or forgotten.

Included in my ‘homework’ was an explanation about the newly implemented student activity fee and a form to complete and include with your check. The student activity fee is supposed to help offset the cost of providing athletic and other after-school programs to students.

The fee is set at $50 per family. Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that families who have, say, three children involved in after-school activities versus people like me, who have one, are essentially paying a lower per-child rate. The rate for that family breaks out at about $16 per kid, versus mine, who’s costing the full $50.

What was the school board thinking? How did they arrive at this figure? Isn’t the impact of a family of three kids on costs to provide after-school services more significant than one, and shouldn’t that cost be borne fairly by those families whose impact is greater? In other words, shouldn’t the family of three be paying $150? Or, should the family of one be paying $16?

Whatever that actual offset point is that the school board was trying to arrive at, they have clearly not assessed it fairly. I personally know of several parents who have contacted Methacton to complain about this, but from what I’m hearing it was treated in a dismissive manner to the parents as a minor issue. I have to wonder how many parents did what I did, which is to blow through the packet of papers, sign where necessary, write checks where necessary, and move on. I didn’t catch that the fee was per family, not per child. I have to believe if more parents realized this, there might be more phone calls to the school district.

And by the way, ‘fee’ does not include transportation. Your student who stays after school to participate in activities has no ride home. There are no more ‘late buses’; that was one of the budget cuts the school district implemented. Transportation is on you to arrange and pay for, if necessary.

There seems to be no logic at work here, but then again, this is the same school board that built a school many residents in both Lower Providence and Worcester believe we did not need, and renegotiated the superintendant’s contract early to give him a healthy raise and bonus, at the same time allowing the teacher’s contract to languish for a couple of years without resolution.


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fees, fees, fees.

They have to pay for Skyview and for the astronomical salary that the Superintendent is getting.

This is a way to increase School District revnue without increasing taxes.

Thanks for the mess, cowards.

Anonymous said...

Janice the fee FOR STUDENTS IS PER FAMILY AND MANY ARENTS HAVE OPTED NOT TO PAY IT AS IT IS FOR SECONDARY AND UP ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAVE AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AS WELL BUT NO CHARGE THERE ALSO IF YOUR CHILDREN PLAY A SPORT THEY ARE CHARGED FOR IT BY THE TEAM A 35 FEE FOR SOCCER LET US NOT INCLUDE COST OF KLEETS OR OTHER EQUIPMENT NEEDED THAT Parents pay for for sports and activities like band etc we had our taxes raised our administrators got a raise they imlemented this fee to make more money off of all students not just those in sports took away late bus so now if your child is involved in any type of after school activity you are paying dearly be it per child or family I say Superintendent should send his bonus to the fund to help the students and I wont even comment on raises for admin and cuts to teachers please I would strike we can not keep up with the increase in living let alone paying for a child to play or do activities after school shame on the board and the super for this

Catherine said...

I have a freshman at MHS and what my issue is with the activity fee is that the marching band or any of the music programs for that matter get any cut. According to the program I attended, Music is not considered an activity. Once again athletics drives who receives the most, but has anyone notice how many awards the music program as received vs the number the championshps the football team has garnered. I will pay the fee as long as ALL the students benefit.

daysleeper411 said...

Thanks Janice. When I contacted the district about this, they told me they opted for an easy solution for the assessment. Sometimes easy isn't always fair. As a single parent I do not want to pay more than my fair share.
Janet

Lisa Mossie said...

Isn't it funny how parents seem to be footing more and more costs out of pocket and our children are getting less. When I was in school back in the eighties, Upper Merion School District provided not one, but two shifts of activities busses--one at 4:00 and one at 5:00. My parents never paid "activity fees" for us to participate in sports. My fear is that the bulk of our tax money has been allocated away from actually paying teachers to educate our children to funding the limping pension plan.

Anonymous said...

This is what I don't get, why are we paying an activity fee if there is no activity bus and many kids will have to drop out of after school activities? Why wouldn't they take all the money and put it towards busses?

Ed said...

I agree with you Janice things are not good...they keep cutting budgets but continue to give the super and his people raises and bonuses...and then put more financial burden on the school district parents and continue to still rasie our taxes.....the rich get richer...the poor get poorer...

Anonymous said...

sadly the time to complain about the activity fee was last spring, during all the budget hearings. and last June when the board finally approved it, without having any design or play for their scam.

even more sadly is the fact that MANY activities will limp along, with no activity buses. and advisors will be pressed to supervise students until a ride arrives.

only students who have access to rides from friends or parents can participate? watch the accident rates, with peers driving each other around.

the district has shifted its burden away from itself, AND implemented the scam-like activity fee, but is giving students LESS!

residents, UNITE and REVOLT!

Anonymous said...

The board discussed at the June 15th board meeting, a pay to participate fee and Maryjane Barbone stated that they needed to put together a group of parents, students, etc. to discuss what would be a "reasonable" fee. At the school board meeting the following week, it became an "activity fee" and was voted on WITHOUT any input from the parents. They also had a June 28th meeting, and guess what, no one knows what was discussed. To the parents who were "shocked" by the $50 fee, wake up and pay attention and attend the school board meetings, this is why the school board gets away with everything they have done, no one care enough to show up and be heard! Oh, and we sent in our "activity fee" form with a 0 on it and told the school to take it out of our hefty tax increase. We didn't pay it and exactly what is the school district going to do? If enough parents had the guts not to pay it, then something would change, but again, they have to care enough to be involved. So I don't feel sorry for anyone who is complaining NOW about the school board, you got what you voted for, everything is done in the dark by our great school board. My advise, WAKE UP AND PAY ATTENTION!!

Anonymous said...

Even though I don't have kids so this doesn't impact me, I do object to the elimination of the activities buses, which does impact me. Whenever school is in, it adds 10-15 minutes to my commute easily due to all of the extra traffic because it seems no one rides the bus anymore in the morning (and parents are somewhat to blame for this). If there are no after-hours buses, it will be the same headaches in the afternoon, ugh!

Anonymous said...

I was there June 15th, but I still don’t know what this fee is for. Can anyone say exactly where they are going to use this extra $50,000? (Their estimated return) are they paying bus drivers, coaches, buying water bottles, will it only be used for sports, will music, theater and ALL other activities benefit??? Questions are all directed to the new athletics director, so I guess sports it is AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

I was there June 15th, but I still don’t know what this fee is for. Can anyone say exactly where they are going to use this extra $50,000? (Their estimated return) are they paying bus drivers, coaches, buying water bottles, will it only be used for sports, will music, theater and ALL other activities benefit??? Questions are all directed to the new athletics director, so I guess sports it is AGAIN!

Anonymous said...

Aren't about 50% up for re-election in 2011. Please get out and vote.

Anonymous said...

I didn't pay the fee and I encouraged everyone else I know not to pay the fee. The fee is illegal. It isn't a pay to play fee and it is charged annually to every family. That makes it a tuition, which is illegal in PA Free Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

Like everyone, I pay the killing school tax and now I must pay $50 activities fee for my child to particitpate in a music program in school! I rent instrument, do tranportation for rehearsals, concerts,buy concert ticket to see my child playing, paying bus fee for school event trips. my child going home hungry everday because paid school lunch to little. Where my tax paid money gone! How can we get all the messages to LP!