SINGAPORE: Teachers will have to pay monthly season parking rates if they want to park their cars or motorcycles at their school car parks from Aug 1 this year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) confirmed on Monday (Mar 26).
During the school term, the monthly season parking rates for cars is S$75 for an uncovered lot and S$100 for a sheltered lot. This is lowered to S$15 and S$20 for an uncovered lot and sheltered lot respectively during the school holidays. The annual rate for parking in an uncovered lot is S$720 while that for a sheltered lot is S$960.
For motorcycles, the monthly season parking rates during the school term is S$13 for an uncovered lot and S$14 for a sheltered lot. During the school holidays, the rates for uncovered and sheltered lots are S$2 and S$3 respectively. For the full year, it costs S$123 for uncovered lots and S$135 for sheltered lots.
The Education Ministry said that different rates will be charged during school term and the holidays as demand for parking fluctuates significantly between the two periods.
"This better reflects a sense of fair charging for the teachers, and was an important feedback we took away from our consultations with school leaders on the implementation aspects of school parking charges," it said in a reply to Channel NewsAsia's queries.
The parking charges are uniform for all schools regardless of location "for ease of administration", it added.
The Education Ministry had said it was reviewing its car park policy for schools after the Audit-General's Office (AGO) 2014/2015 Financial Year report noted that the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic did not impose charges or had charges that were below the market rate.
"Such practices are tantamount to providing hidden subsidies for vehicle parking and are not in line with the requirements laid down in the Government Instruction Manuals," the AGO had said.
MOE said that since then, it has been working with the Public Service Division and Ministry of Finance "to determine an appropriate treatment for staff parking in schools".
"It has become increasingly clear that the current treatment of allowing school staff to park for free constitutes a taxable benefit, as the vast majority of school car parks are located near chargeable car parks and the car parks are intended for the use of staff and authorised visitors, with no access given to the general public," the Education Ministry said.
To determine the annual market value for school car parks, MOE referred to the Housing and Development Board's Tier 2 season parking rates for non-residents, it said.
It also considered inputs from a professional valuer, while also accounting for the restrictions on staff parking due to many school car parks being reserved for school buses to park in the evenings and on weekends, it added.
MOE explained that school car parks are generally intended to be “dual use” with clearly demarcated hours for school staff and for overnight school bus parking, Hence, the school season parking rates were set so that the total car park charges from both sets of season parking users are "broadly comparable" with HDB Tier 2 season parking rates.
The charges will take effect from Aug 1 to "provide sufficient time for schools to finalise the implementation details and for MOE to engage teachers and school staff to address their queries before implementation begins", MOE added.
CONTROVERSY OVER THE POLICY
MOE's announcement in 2016 that it was reviewing the car park policy for schools was not well-received by teachers and members of the public.
The Worker's Party Pritam Singh on Monday also expressed his stand against the new policy in a Facebook post.
"Some public sector professions and services - and I count teachers among them - must always be seen in an elected government's eye through a lens that recognises their direct and indirect contributions to nation-building," said the MP.
"I stand against charging parking fees for teachers who drive cars or motorcycles," he added.