School Committee Votes to Increase Student Fees


Julia Sandquist

Fees Picture
Students could face an increase in many fees, including lunch prices, bus passes, and athletic fees. Photo/ Max Simons

The school district has a $533,000 deficit this year and must close a $600,000 gap in its proposed budget before May 2016. In order to help Walpole High pay its fees, the School Committee has recently voted to increase transportation and athletic fees next year by $25, as well as the cost of school lunches by 50 cents.

Currently, the bus fee is set at $250 with a $550 family cap, and athletic fees are $200 with a $500 individual cap. Lunches at the high school and middle schools cost students $3.25.

The Committee has planned for a $25 increase per high school sport to $225 while also bumping up the family sports cap by $25 to $1,125. The individual student sport cap will remain at $500. A $25 increase was also added to bus fees to total $275 with the family cap increasing by the same amount to $575 per year.

Lunch prices were raised by 50 cents for students and faculty while the breakfast cost was increased by a quarter.

“Increasing fees will definitely help offset six years of inflation and a portion of the cost to provide the programs and services​, which are the main reasons why we voted for them,” said Superintendent Lincoln Lynch.

Fees have been slowly increasing in the past few years. In 2009, for instance, the Walpole School Committee voted to raise athletic fees at Walpole High School by $45 per student per sport.

“As a lacrosse player and swimmer for Walpole High, I do not think the fee increases for sports are a good idea because they are unfair for families who have multiple kids participating in high school sports,” said junior Julie Hinton.

Despite the fact that the fee hikes will save more money to spend on school programs, the school has adhered to its decision to cut certain student programs. The writing lab, homework club, math lab and biology club ended on February 26 because there was no money in the school budget to fund them.

Despite the seemingly vast increase in fees, “the school’s current and revised fees compare well with surrounding towns. The increased fees reflect the growing costs of each of our programs and the need to maintain the best services for all students,” said School Business Administrator Michael Friscia.

Although fee hikes may seem like the only solution to solve the deficit problem, there are alternative solutions the School Committee is considering to implement in the high school. For instance, Lynch said that the committee could look to other early retirement packages and save money through attrition – hiring lower-paid, young teachers to replace higher-paid, more experienced teachers. The school could also reduce or eliminate services that are currently provided by reducing budgets that are not dependent on fees and instead use the budgets to support the fee related services.

However, the School Committee decided to move forward with fee hikes, and the increases are to be set in place for the 2015-2016 school year starting next September.