Thursday, March 15, 2007

From the Salem News ... Peabody parents and students are mad about parking fees.

Clearly there are others that think $75 for parking at the high school is excessive, but my question is... is there a bus fee in the city yet? Could it be the same thing? Parents pay for their students to ride the bus in some communities, so this could be considered the same thing. Ultimately it's paying for convenience... but if a student doesn't pay and the city has no monitor, who is going to enforce it? What happens if you don't have a permit? Is the cost of enforcing this going to be greater, especially with no lot monitor job.

Hmm... the plot thickens. Stay tuned!

Hundreds of petitioners say high school parking fee is unfairBy Stacie N. Galang , Staff writerSalem News

PEABODY - Students and parents have collected hundreds of signatures in the hopes of kicking the $75 high school parking fee to the curb.Parent Sue Rankin presented a petition with 657 signatures to the School Committee Tuesday night as part of the effort by Peabody High's Parent-Teacher-Student Organization to convince elected officials to nix parking fees.The fees were originally instituted at $50 to help offset the cost of paying for a security monitor whose main duty was to watch over the parking area. That job that no longer exists, and now, parents and students are asking why they should continue paying the fee, especially as the cost continues to rise."This parking fee is actually penalizing the students if they drive to school," said Rankin, co-president of the PTSO. "Their parents have already paid taxes to the city of Peabody to maintain our municipal buildings and grounds they sit on."Peabody isn't the only district that charges for student parking. Danvers High students pay $5 to park, and Beverly asks for $175. Ipswich and Salem high schools do not charge. Donna Craven of Peabody said parents are unhappy about most fees, but at least the fees for athletics go back to sports. Not so with the parking fee. With the loss of the security monitor's job, parents are wondering why they should pay at all."Kids are paying for something that they're not getting a service for," she said. "That's not fair."Decision makers have little hope the added charges passed along to parents and students will be lifted anytime soon.Committee member Mark Bartkiewicz said no one wants fees, but the School Department couldn't function without them. "We have a fixed amount of money to work with, and we have to provide education first and foremost," he said. He said the only alternative is to charge all taxpayers, but he doubted it would be a popular alternative."Is it an unfair tax? Absolutely," he said. "It's a surcharge for people using it."Committee member Michael Moutsoulas said he didn't like fees, either."It's just tough fiscal times," he said. "I'd be the first to vote down fees if we can find an alternative funding method." The fees bring in about $18,000 a year.
Committee members Anne Manning and David McGeney withheld judgment until they had more budget information. Manning said she wanted to see Superintendent C. Milton Burnett's priorities before she could commit to any reductions.But she was pessimistic. After the School Department's major costs, like health care and salaries, are met, she didn't think much money would be left over.Committee member Edward Nizwantowski said he would vote against all fees for students. Parents already pay taxes to cover these costs, he said."This is public education," he said.Instead, Nizwantowski said, the School Department should be more frugal with administrators' salaries. "I think our kids are paying for the former superintendent's raises before she left," he said.

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