GLEN ROCK, NJ – The Board of Education said they plan to reevaluate the collection process for activity fees early next year, in time for the 2019-20 budget year.
At a board meeting on June 12, trustees discussed reverting back to the activity fee collection process from 2012 to 2015, which was one $200 charge per student. Vice President Sharon Scarpelli said the board had changed that process to its current collection method which is per activity, given complaints from parents who noticed an inequity existed among students who paid the same umbrella cost for both clubs and sports but resulted in one student involved in more activities than another.
For the 2018-19 school year, the board appropriated $150,000 for activity fees, but considered changing that collection process in January when they put the issue back on the table for re-examination.
Trustees Elizabeth Carr and Rona McNabola agreed that the $200-per-student in lieu of its current process, which is per activity, is a “simpler” way to collect.
“If you pay the $200, you can be a three-season athlete and a 20-club participant if you paid your $200,” said Carr. “I think it’s a pretty fair deal.”
Trustee Edmund Hayward said he didn’t think the discussed strategy was the “right mechanism” to collect the money, especially for parents who have larger families.
Trustee Sheldon Hirschberg noted that whatever the board decides in the future, not everyone will be a winner.
“No matter what approach we come up with, somebody will be disadvantaged and somebody will be advantaged,” he said matter-of-factly. “We have to come up with a system that we think is appropriate.”
Hirschberg did, however, express his disinterest in charging for co-curricular activities and said the board should charge solely for sports.
“I personally am against charging any fee for co-curricular activities,” he said. “I think that clubs should be a part of our educational offerings. I think sports are a little different. I would be for having a fee appropriate for sports, but whatever this board decides to do, we’re going to make somebody unhappy.”
While the board will revisit the activity fee early next year before trustees prepare their budget for the 2019-2020 school year, Business Administrator Michael Rinderknecht will speak with the administration about an easier way to collect club fees, perhaps prepaying for them and given a receipt, as “there’s no real verification if they paid for the fee,” Scarpelli said, and “some way to check so that way, the burden isn’t on advisors to track down these monies.”