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School board to discuss student parking fees Monday

New hires

New hires for certified positions:

Sasha Dorsey, Henderson High School

Stacie Chapman, Bostian Elementary School

Tyler Downs, China Grove Middle School

Aaron McNeill, East Rowan High School

Michele Bibb, Granite Quarry Elementary School

Frances Long, Granite Quarry Elementary School

Spencer Bowden, Hurley Elementary School

Arneda Taylor-Harper, Hurley Elementary School

Cynthia Krider, Hurley Elementary School

Jada Wilson, Millbridge Elementary School

Abigayle Selke, Mount Ulla Elementary School

Carol Young, Mount Ulla Elementary School

Stacey Patterson, Mount Ulla Elementary School

Ann Bourque, Salisbury High School

Zachary Dyer, Salisbury High School

Stephanie Walker, Southeast Middle School

Sarah Neff, South Rowan Nigh School

By Rebecca Rider
rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Student parking fees are up for discussion once again at the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education’s monthly business meeting. The fees, currently $50 for students, have been picked apart at board meetings for the past several months.

Currently, 30 percent of each parking fee goes to the district and is saved for parking-lot maintenance. The other 70 percent stays with the school, and has been used by various high schools in school beautification or to purchase needed items. High school principals spoke up at a previous meeting to say that the parking fee represents the only discretionary money schools receive — all other funds are earmarked for instructional purposes.

The board voted at its Oct. 24 meeting to table until solutions could be found, but the subject is back on the agenda for Monday. According to documents attached to the board’s online agenda, high school principals have recommended that the fees be set at $35, minimum, with all of the money going to the schools. Parking fees have been in place at area high schools since 2002, and were increased from $35 to $50 about seven years ago, the document reads.

According to the agenda, an examination of parking fees in nearby counties by school system staff show that student parking fees range from $20 (Gaston County) to $170 (Cary High School), with an average of $55.63. Three of Rowan County’s immediate neighbors — Davie County, Iredell County and Mooresville — charge students $50 to park on school property. Kannapolis City Schools, however, charges students $25. Two Stanly County schools — South Stanly High School and West Stanly High School — charge students $30 and $25, respectively.

At previous meetings, board member Travis Allen argued in favor of eliminating the fees completely for students and providing principals with discretionary money from the board’s fund balance. Allen argued that the amount schools receive from parking fees are not equal. For example, in the 2015-16 school year, Carson collected approximately $21,550 in parking fees while North Rowan only collected $1,550.

However, attachments to the board’s online agenda caution pulling a flat amount for schools from the board’s fund balance. Government guidelines recommend that school systems keep between five and 15 percent of its annual expenditures in the fund balance at all times. For Rowan-Salisbury Schools, five percent would be approximately $8 million. The current fund balance rests at $4.8 million, and the attachment notes that $1.4 million has already been appropriated for the 2016-17 school year.

“Therefore, we are hesitant to recommend that high schools are supplemented from fund balance to cover parking fees,” the document reads.

If the board does choose to supplement the fees, the document notes, another fund will have to face a reduction.

The board will meet Monday at 5 p.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum board room, 500 N. Main St. Public comment will be held at 6 p.m. This is the board’s only meeting for November.

In other business, the board:

  • Will hear an update from the Knox Center for Accelerated Studies
  • Hear an update from the district’s transportation department.
  • Discuss hiring a principal coach.
  • Discuss overtime pay.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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