Could Schools Start Charging Students to Use the Bathroom?

The past few years of a tough recession have all but done away with a free public education system. From elementary schools to higher education institutions, more and more charges are being heaped upon parents and students as schools deal with massive budget cuts and funding shortages. The excessive fees could lead some to wonder: what's next, charging students to use the bathroom?

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Fees, Fees and More Fees

Activity programming fees. Technology supply fees. Learning resource fees. Registration fees. Fees for athletics, club memberships and even bus rides. Some districts are even asking parents to have students bring in stamps at the end of the school year for mailing their child's final report card!

Covering everything from workbooks to projector bulbs, fees being charged by school districts across the country are a growing trend and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

One distraught mother in Ohio, who year paid nearly $4,500 in fees in the last school to have her children enrolled in core and elective courses as well as to participate in band and track, told the Wall Street Journal in May 2011, 'Am I going to be paying for my parking spot at the school?'

When is Enough Enough?

Many are arguing that fees are getting out of hand, and that parents and students should not be charged for required materials such as textbooks or workbooks, nor for enrollment in Advanced Placement courses (which many schools have begun to do). Some cite state constitutions that guarantee 'free public education'.

In September 2010, the ACLU in California brought a class action lawsuit against the state and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, stating that many fees public schools are charging are unconstitutional.

Colleges and Universities Also Adding, Upping Fees

Elementary, middle and secondary schools are not alone in raising or creating fees in order to close the gap between costs and budget cuts. Higher education is also feeling the pinch and placing the burden on students and their parents.

Some institutions have seen increases in student housing and parking fees along with (though in some cases in lieu of) tuition hikes. Others are introducing new fees such as maintenance fees, institutional fees and incidental fees (often for student activities) that up to a few years ago did not appear on tuition bills.

No Other Way to Cope with Shortfalls?

Many administrators say that fees are simply the only option to stop from having to cut even deeper into programs and activities. A large number of schools across the country have been forced to cut programs like music and art, lay off teachers and eliminate extracurricular activities.

And still, the funds are simply not there. So while coin-operated stalls in school restrooms are of course not being implemented, one does wonder where the continuing financial expectations being placed on parents and other sources will take us next.

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