School Committee discusses proposed parking fees, new courses

by Town Reminder

School Committee discusses proposed parking fees, new courses
By Matthew Couto
Turley Publications Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY – Principal Sean McNiff of South Hadley High School was present at a special School Committee meeting Thursday, Feb. 16, to propose a new plan concerning parking fees and four new courses that will be offered this upcoming fall.
“Parking pass sales were down this year and we feel it is somewhat of a reflection from reducing the cost of the lower upper lot,” said McNiff. “After these spaces were not available anymore, the students did not want the higher priced spaces.”
What McNiff proposed, and was approved of by the four present members of the School Committee, was making all of the high school parking passes one price of $75. When the passes were all one price in the past, all the spaces sold out and the high school was able to make the most of its parking lots.
This year there have been 31 parking lot spaces left vacant, meaning a potential $3,100 loss in revenue.
New cell phone policy begins trial run
Also discussed at the meeting was a new cell phone policy the high school has been testing out. For the past few weeks, students have been able to use their electronic devices in an appropriate way during non-academic times. These times include before and after school, during the break period, lunch and passing from class to class.
The current policy requires students to not have any electronics visible throughout the day and if a student was to be caught with their cell phone out it would be confiscated and their parents would be called.
“The new policy would be allowing the school to open up, but opening up to potential problems such as cyber-bullying as well,” said School Committee Chairman Dale Carey. “I am by no means ready to change the current policy.”
The school committee voted to approve the trial period and wait for more information on what the impact is going to be before a change in policy is approved.
New high school courses available for fall 2012
Four new courses will be available at the high school come the fall of 2012. Financial Literacy, AP Calculus BC, Honors Chinese I, and Honors Chinese II will all be included in the course of studies for the 2012-2013 school year. AP Calculus BC will provide a total of six college credits to a student once completed.
Sports fee increases by $25
Parents will have to pay a little bit more money for their children to be able to play sports next year. User fees are increasing from $75 to $100, which still keeps South Hadley as one of the area towns with the lowest price.
Middle School Principal Erica Faginski-Stark discusses budget
Principal Faginski-Stark was present at the meeting on Thursday night as well to discuss the need for professional development in terms of contracted services, substitutes and supplies.
The most important thing the middle school needs according to Faginski-Stark was an outside math specialist to come in and work with their math teachers in order to get a set of fresh eyes on the math department. The cost of having an outside math specialist to come into the school and be present for a few weeks would be close to $10,000 but it is something that will have a lasting effect on the school’s teachers.