Lawmaker says NJ schools shouldn’t charge for extracurricular activities
Recent data shows for every pupil attending school in the Garden State, the state Education Department is spending a record $19,211, but of that total, only $274 goes toward extracurricular activities.
That means if you want your son or daughter to play in the band, be on a sports team, go on a class trip or do any other activity after school, it'll probably cost you hundreds of dollars.
One New Jersey lawmaker, who opposes charging parents anything for extracurricular activities, believes this is outrageous.
"I understand all school districts like everywhere in every corner of our economy are squeezed for money, but if these programs are valuable enough to help a child become well rounded they need to be available to all kids. If we're not going to charge for advanced science classes, the idea to charge for an extracurricular activity , there's some hypocrisy there," said New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-West Deptford).
The lawmaker said charging money for extracurriculars creates different classes of students -- those can afford to pay and those who can't -- and he believes that's wrong.
"Public education has got to be equal and available to all," he said. "We don't offer public education in New Jersey with an a la carte menu. Why would you present a barrier and say to a parent by the way, you want your child to participate in that extracurricular activity, it's another $300?"
Burzichelli said New Jersey parents are already paying the highest property taxes in the nation.
"The requirement to pay for any program in a public school is going to present a barrier somewhere in every school district, and that's not what public education is supposed to be. If necessary, you know I would suggest you look elsewhere to cut, maybe one less administrator somewhere," he said.
The bottom line said Burzichelli said, is when you walk into a public school, it's supposed to be equal access for all.
"If you walk through the door and you're handed a menu saying 'if you want to do this, have your parent write this check or you want to do that, have them write that check,' that's going to leave people behind, that's going to create barriers, and it's going to create a class system within our public schools, and our public schools are not designed to be that way," he said.
Different school districts in different parts of the state charge different extracurricular fees for different activities.