Gov. Christie should sign the legislation passed Monday in the state Senate that would allow schools to charge fees for summer classes. This bill is a smart way to generate financial support for summer school programs that would otherwise be cut, and give kids a second chance.
Facing a major budget crunch, many New Jersey schools are no longer able to support summer school programs. If Christie doesn’t sign this emergency legislation, many schools won’t be able to offer summer school.
Under the current law, schools are not allowed to charge students for summer school within their district. The new legislation would give districts the option to keep summer schools open and charge a fee. While some districts may still be unable to afford summer school, “at least you’ll have the option as a school district to make that decision,” state Sen. Jim Whelan (D., Atlantic).
The Assembly has already passed the bill, and the Senate wisely followed suit. The estimated summer school tuition is $200. There will be a sliding scale to adjust the payment for students from lower-income families. Those earning below the federal poverty line are exempt, and the district offers financial aid for those who make under 1.85 times the poverty line.
The bill will also make it cheaper for some students to attend summer school. Because some schools cannot afford to stay open for summer, students who choose to attend summer school in a different district currently have to pay up to $400.
Charging tuition could even provide an incentive for parents to ensure that their children complete their schoolwork during the year. Maybe a $200 fee could finally open the eyes of some parents who have not properly enforced homework time.
Summer school can be important for academic growth, and this bill offers a viable option for certain districts as state funds are decreasing.
Still, something should be done to help students from less affluent districts that are unable to offer summer school. If Christie signs the bill, schools that decide to hold summer sessions could consider offering scholarships to out-of-district students who don’t have other options.