Thursday, October 16, 2008

The best things in life are fee

Parents in Howard County that have kids in public schools get the benefit of somewhere around $10,000 per child in education services. If you have a couple of kids in public schools, you are getting them educated for pennies on your tax dollar. That's a pretty sweet deal. In fact, as I have argued in the past that is too sweet of a deal for parents.

Therefore, I am disappointed that Dr. Cousin, superintendent of public schools, place a freeze on the ability of the school system to charge fees for certain items provided to students (things like day planners, magazine subscriptions, and craft supplies). Dr. Cousin has placed this freeze to make sure that fees are being charged in an equitable fashion. Theses fees range from under $10 to just under $60 per child. Most schools charge around $15.

I can understand that Dr. Cousin would want to make sure that schools are charging these fees in a way that makes sense. But why would he put the whole program on hold while the question of fairness is sorted out? Doesn't he see that these fees are extremely small and the unintended consequences of not charging them could be much larger?

Teachers union president Ann DeLacy said fees also are charged at the high school level, including lab fees for science classes and supply fees in art classes.

Because many teachers pay for some supplies out of their own wallets, DeLacy said she hopes the moratorium on supply and fee requests won’t add to teachers’ personal expenses.

“That’s one concern, but the greater concern is that our programs are enriched by the children and the fees they pay,” she said.

Oakland Mills High School teacher Zenoba Stephens said she charges students in her culinary science and food and nutrition classes a $40 fee for ingredients used in cooking exercises.

“We use this lab fee for food because my students cook at least two times a week,” she said.

If the fee were to be eliminated without a boost in funding from the school system, students would lose interest in the course because they wouldn’t be able to cook as frequently, Stephens said.

“Kids get in there because they want to cook and more importantly they want to eat,” she said. “Virtual cooking isn’t something they’re going to enjoy.”

It could be worse. Some parents in Montgomery County are suing their public school system in an effort to stop the schools from charging fees for extras that their children get. That just takes chutzpah.


Anonymous said...

90% of fees have already been paid. The "freeze" is confusing in that regard because fees aren't due again until Sept 2009, at which time, I expect the freeze to be lifted.

I guess when the elected/appointed people get away with the likes of billions in taxpayer money for wall st. junkets, there's no limit to what they'll say while taxpayers have a knife in their backs and politicians are assuring us it's just acupuncture.

Elected and appointed individuals who are our neighbors are lying to us, folks. Time to examine our loyalties.

Anonymous said...

Your figure of $10,000 per child assumes that all of that money is actually spent educating the children. How does it benefit our kids that nearly $300,000 in taxpayer funds is spent annually on Dr. Counsin's salary, not including his retirement, life, and medical benefits, or his $700 per month car allowance? He is only one of many examples of too much money being spent in the wrong way. It isn't a sweet deal for anyone until the HCPSS trims the fat and stops ripping off the taxpayers.