Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

In another wrong-headed (and ill-informed) move, the Village wants to charge students to park at Vets?

Gee, I was hoping this idea, which was floated a few months ago, had died, but apparently it's still alive. What got my attention today was the story on Ridgewood Patch that said that Councilmembers Killion, Walsh and Riche "agreed to impose a parking pass in line with what the Board of Education charges for student parking."

"If it's the practice of the Board of Ed. to charge students for parking on public property, I'm inclined to think we can do it," Killion said.


Someone might want to inform Mr. Killion et al that the BOE does NOT charge students for parking at First Presbyterian Church or Heermance. First Pres is private property, and the church charges for parking on its private property. In an arrangement worked out many years ago, RHS has coordinated the collection of those parking fees, and then turned them over to the church. It was done as a service to students, to make it easier for them. But the District is not charging (or keeping) the fees.

As for Heermance, there is no charge for parking there. My daughter used to park there sometimes, when she could get up early enough. It was always first come, first served.

I like this quote from the Ridgewood Patch story: "Council ...wanted the pass to be comparable to the school district's rate, which as of last night they did not know specifics." You can say that again! Who needs to check on silly "specifics" before approving new fees to charge our children?

And, for the record, even if Council had their facts straight, I think this is a terrible idea. What's next, charging 6-year-olds to play on the playground at Vets? Start saving those quarters, kids!


Anonymous said...

I agree, stupid idea to try and raise a few thousand dollars by taxing kids (or their parents, in reality, probably) twice...doesn't paying taxes cover residents' use of an empty parking lot at our town's main park/field complex? Dumb.

Anonymous said...

What's next?

Charging students that ridiculous flat rate "Activity fee" whether they participate in just Greek Club (which meets during lunch, has a no show advisor and does their own fundraising) or whether they play three seasons of varsity sports (complete with coaches, trainers, medical staff, buses, uniforms, etc).

Or how about the "Art Lab Fee" that the kids taking art classes now pay? Why nickel and dime these students for the $5 - $10 per class?

What's next?

I'm already providing tissues, hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, red marking pens, post-it notes, etc.

Laurie said...

Ridgewood's Activity Fee was established many years ago and helps offset the cost of extracurricular activities. An increasing number of districts in the state and around the country also charge activity fees. Some districts set-up a menu of charges, with higher prices for activities which require more staff (varsity sports) or materials. Other districts use the flat fee model, such as we have in Ridgewood.

Last year the Board discussed changing our activity fee structure, but I was against charging different fees for different activities. Here's why:

Extracurriculars are an important part of the Ridgewood educational experience. We encourage students to participate in something, anything, in addition to courses. And we want students to explore new things, follow their passions, discover new interests and go as far as they want and can in their chosen activities. I would not want students to choose their activities based on price. It's as simple as that.

The original BOE that developed the activity fee felt it was most fair to charge all students equally and let them choose their interests, and I agree that it's the best system.

Lab fees are something different, and were instituted by the high school administration. I am not sure what the fees are and for which classes. I will be getting more info on that. But I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that the school's budget (as all our schools' budgets) for supplies was cut. I can't really share any opinion until I get more info.

Anonymous said...

Most parents disagree that the pay one price activity fee is the best system. It should be pay to play. We all have to select what we want to do and figure out if we can afford it. Otherwise, most of use would be living on the beach. Ridgewood offers a great variety of extracurriculars and some kids chose one, others chose dozens. But how can anyone rationalize a flat fee when we know football cost more than a self-sustaining chess club? When the activity fee was instituted back the 1970's, the sports teams didn't have trainers, medical advisors, etc. It was a more level playing field (pun intended!).

In any case, thanks for your thoughts on this.

Laurie said...

I don't know that I agree that "most" parents want a menu of prices, but I hear what you're saying. I guess one of my other concerns is a fear of setting a dangerous precedent...for example, some classes require more resources than others. Some classes have more expensive teachers than others...should we charge for students who use the services of the crisis counselor? Or the nurse? Or special ed services? I'm not sure that all would agree on which are "mandatory" and which are "extras," and our system of public education is built on a model that provides to all students equally.

I did want to point out that parents of students who participate in some of the more expensive sports and activities do pay more for their children's participation. The hockey parents pay quite a lot for ice time...soccer parents have paid for additional coach/trainers...band parents pay for band things (I'm sorry, but I'm just not a band parent so I don't exactly know what it is). These are just a few examples of things I'm familiar with.

Thanks for your thoughts, too!