Stu­dent fees: you get what you pay for

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

Par­ents, if you think your child is un­fairly pay­ing ex­tra stu­dent dues at New­ton County high schools that amount to more than stu­dents at other schools across the dis­trict, well, you may or may not be cor­rect.

Stu­dent dues run about the same price for all high schools — Al­covy, East­side and New­ton high schools, along with the New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy (NCCA). The al­leged dis­crep­ancy, which some par­ents have re­cently come to The Cov­ing­ton News about, may come from the break­down and tim­ing of when stu­dents are re­quired to pay.

An ini­tial ques­tion of why East­side up­per­class­men were charged $20 more than Al­covy’s up­per­class­men for a park­ing spot led to a look into all four schools’ stu­dent fees, how much they were charged for each item and what year they were due. Sherri Davis-Viniard, di­rec­tor of pub­lic re­la­tions for New­ton County School Sys­tem (NCSS), gath­ered in­for­ma­tion from each school’s prin­ci­pal for The Cov­ing­ton News, and The Cov­ing­ton News was able to con­firm num­bers for Al­covy and NCCA with San­dra Owens, Al­covy prin­ci­pal.

Al­covy, East­side and New­ton high schools all charge stu­dents $40 for an in­di­vid­ual park­ing space good through the aca­demic year. Park­ing fees must be re­newed each year the stu­dent wants a spot.

The ex­tra $20 comes in when they start pay­ing stu­dent fees, which vary be­tween schools. East­side charges $20 each year to ju­niors and se­niors, which goes to a fund that pays for diploma cov­ers, pic­nic ta­bles, bike racks, honor stoles, ju­nior and se­nior pic­tures, etc.

Al­covy does not charge manda­tory stu­dent fees. Al­covy Prin­ci­pal Owens said diplo­mas cost $30, but that is an op­tional charge based on whether the stu­dent wants a copy of his or her diploma. And se­niors pay for what they want out of se­nior pic­tures, from noth­ing to the max­i­mum pack­age.

“We try to min­i­mize our fees,” Owens said. “With­out sac­ri­fic­ing qual­ity, we do as best we can to keep things as cheap as we can.”

Last year, she said, about 64 per­cent of stu­dents at Al­covy were on free and re­duced lunch pro­grams.

New­ton High School charges a one-time $100 fee to up­per­class­men, which even in­cludes prom. East­side’s prom tick­ets range from $65 to $85, with prices in­creas­ing as the date ap­proaches. Al­covy also has a slid­ing scale for prom tick­ets, rang­ing from $50 to $85, de­pend­ing on the venue and when the stu­dent pur­chases the ticket.

Stu­dents who at­tend NCCA tech­ni­cally pay the same amount for two park­ing spots. They give $10 for a spot at their base school and $30 for a spot at NCCA. NCCA does not col­lect stu­dent fees or prom ticket charges as they at­tend prom at and are al­ready charged by their base school.

All in all, with one year’s park­ing spot and one prom ticket, an Al­covy up­per­class­man is re­quired to pay $90-$125. That price is $180-$250 if the stu­dent buys a park­ing spot and goes to prom both ju­nior and se­nior year. East­side stu­dents end up pay­ing $250-$290 over the course of two years, in­clud­ing two park­ing spots and two trips to prom. By the time se­niors grad­u­ate from New­ton, they will have paid $180, which in­cludes two park­ing spots.

Al­covy’s and East­side’s fees can be dras­ti­cally dropped to $80 and $120, re­spec­tively, if the stu­dent skips out on prom both years. If stu­dents also opt out of a park­ing spot both years, those at Al­covy owe zip for any fees, and those at East­side owe $20 each up­per­class­man year. Since New­ton’s prom ticket is in­cluded in the stu­dent fees, the low­est they can go is $100 by choos­ing to forgo both park­ing spots.

But what fun is that?

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