Over the next two years student parking fees at Oswego High School and Oswego East High School would double under a proposal presented to the Oswego School District Board of Education by district administrators during a Jan. 28 meeting.
The proposed parking fee hike is part of a proposed second phase of budget cuts and fee increases under consideration by the board as district officials attempt to reduce a projected multi-million-dollar budget deficit.
The board is expected to vote on the parking fee hike and a series of other budget reduction and fee hike measures during their next meeting Feb. 11.
Currently the district charges students $50 per semester for a parking permit, or $100 for a full school year. Under the administration proposal, the fee would increase to $75 per semester for the 2019-2020 school year and then increase again to $100 per semester for the 2020-2021 school year.
Board members did not comment on the parking fee hike proposal during the Jan. 28 meeting.
However, Emily Harshberger, an OEHS student, expressed concern about the impact the fees hikes are having on the district's high school students.
"I know that myself and many of my peers are people who are greatly involved in extracurriculars here at not only East, but Oswego High School, and being engaged in these curriculars, we do see the fees for each item, along with the $300 athletic fees and $50 activity fees...those fees greatly build up," Harshberger pointed out.
"These students work really hard to be able to afford a car, to pay gas, pay fees, but almost doubling the parking permit fee is something that makes students reconsider being in such electives and being a part of this community that they honestly want to be in, but may not have the money to afford," she said.
Harshberger asked the board to consider the burden that the increased fees place on students, especially those who have siblings in extracurriculars.
In response, board member Toni Morgan acknowledged that paying for fees can be a "hardship" for some students.
"That should be addressed for sure," she said.
"Some students elect to drive, because they prefer to not take the bus, but the buses are available...and I think that students have to consider the possibility in the future of working together to get rides to and from activities," Morgan said. "I think as a board, we're just always trying to keep costs down, but there are places where certain things are kind of considered a luxury, and for some kids - not for all kids - that is a luxury, so they have to work extra to be able to afford that and to be able to have that."