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New Harford Co. School Policy May Force Students To Pay For Extracurriculars

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Harford County school meeting
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Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Major changes in the upcoming school year in Harford County have parents outraged as they learn they will have to pay for their children’s extracurricular activities–and that’s not all.

Rochelle Ritchie has more on what other changes are being made.

With just two weeks before the first day of school, Harford County parents are hit with a double whammy. They’ll not only have to pay for their kids to participate in clubs and sports, but getting to school could be a challenge for magnet students with several bus routes now cut.

“It’s going to be a daily chore because my mom works late,” said Eric Debye.

The school board has decided it’s the only way to combat a $20 million deficit, digging deep into the pockets of parents.

“The idea that this is in the best interest of the students…I don’t agree,” said Nancy Purdy.

Neither do county officials.

“They have more than $13 million in a budget surplus for the school system,” said education liaison Robert Thomas.

But the budget committee says no, they don’t. They blame the deficit on a $6 million cut in state funding and a $15 million increase in expenditures.

“Changes of any kind are always difficult. We are committed to work with parents, community and staff to make this transition as easy as possible,” said Nancy Reynolds.

Teachers worry the pay-to-play police may leave some kids out.

“Not all students have the same financial ability and not all parents do, so that is going to have some effect on them there,” said a teacher who wanted to be identified only as Debbie.

Parents will have to dish out $50 for their kids to play sports.

“I’m on two sports teams right now, and I am trying out for a third. That’s $150 right there,” said student Ethan Divin.

Students will have to pay $25 to join any clubs at their school.

The first day of school in Harford County is Aug. 26.

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