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The TAB and Patch included information about the following resolution in their budget stories, but I have seen no follow-up discussion or remarks anywhere on the implications.  Somebody please tell me if there was online or print conversation that I missed.  If there wasn’t, we let the Board of Aldermen get away with something.

On May 21, the Board of Aldermen passed the mayor’s $313 million budget. They also passed — unanimously — the following non-binding resolution:

Budget Resolution #9

School Fees 

Submitted by Aldermen Kalis & Sangiolo

Whereas the Newton community strives to educate the complete student, including but not limited to the core curriculum, and whereas the implementation of school fees makes it burdensome for families to participate in aspects of student activities.

Be it RESOLVED that the school administration, together with the Mayor, School Committee and the Board of Aldermen, conduct a review of the fees policy to better understand the
impact fees are having on student participation in activities, to outline the new fee collection process, and to establish a working group focused on developing revenue sources to reduce or eventually eliminate the hardship of student activity fees over a specific timeline.

APPROVED by Voice Vote 

Probably the aldermen thought they were doing a good thing: trying to help struggling families. But they have no authority to interfere in the business of the School Committee. It may be non-binding but I find it disturbing that the 20-something aldermen who were there that day believe that because they don’t like that the school department charges fees, they can summon the School Committee to work with them to create a new process and generate “new sources of revenue” to eventually eliminate the hardship of fees.

How are board members quantifying the hardship? Is it anecdotal? How do they know the school department would prioritize eliminating fees if they were able to identify a new revenue source?  If there are really new revenue sources to be found — to the tune of $1 million a year — why are we talking about naming rights? Should the BOA have any more say than any other Newton residents about School Committee policy?

I hope somebody will tell me that I completely misunderstood this resolution.

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