Retired headmasters forsee challenges
With the government set to abolish auxiliary fees for high schools in the new school year beginning in September, some retired principals in western Jamaica have weighed in on the issue, which has been a contentious one for many school administrators.
June Thompson, past principal of Rusea's High School in Lucea, Hanover, told Western Focus that during her tenure at the institution, the payment of auxiliary fees was never a big concern.
"While I was at Rusea's, the compliance rate for auxiliary fees was high," said Thompson, who retired in 2013 after serving at the school for eight years. "We were given a ceiling that we could not go beyond. it was controlled, (but) there was not an issue per se, and we did not pressure the parents who could not afford it."
Adlin Smith, former principal of the Mount Grace Primary and Junior High School in Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland, said that while her school did not collect auxiliary fees during her 10-year tenure, it did receive a regular allowance and collected insurance and other small fees for new students.
"We were not allowed to collect auxiliary fees. we were more like a primary school, and we were given a small allowance," Smith explained. "What we collected would be like a registration fee, so they would pay for PE outfits, insurance, IDs, and things like that, but we could not collect auxiliary fees."
Both former educators were of the view that the abolition of auxiliary fees, which was announced by Education Minister Ruel Reid in April, would result in schools not being able to manage their operational costs.
"Abolishing the auxiliary fees will cause problems because the auxiliary fee served its purpose, and if they cannot find the funds needed to cushion that, there will be operational problems," said Thompson. "Whatever the intake from the auxiliary fees is, the powers that be must be able to supply that need."
Smith said: "I think it (abolition of auxiliary fees) helps those who cannot pay, but I think all parents should make a contribution to their children's education. I think the government should give a certain amount of money for each child, but if the school needs more money, then it can be collected through auxiliary fees."
Reid had previously stated that in abolishing auxiliary fees, the government would increase subvention money to $19,000 per student, up from $11,500. However, some school administrators hit back at the proposed abolition, saying the subvention increase would not be enough to fund their school programmes.