BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — The fight over pay to play has reached a fever pitch in Harford County. Dozens of students, parents and teachers gathered to ask school leaders to rescind a plan to charge students money for certain extracurricular activities.
The meeting lasted well into the night. More than 50 people spoke in front of the board, and many more attended the meeting asking them to reconsider participation fees.
At about 11:30 p.m., the school board voted to uphold the new policy to charge members of student theatre companies $100 to participate in a show.
“I have a couple friends who have said that this fee will deter them from doing it because they can’t afford it and neither can their parents,” said Chris Sines, Harford Tech Student.
“We didn’t know this was happening at all. We were totally blindsided,” said Jessica Brockmeyer, a county teacher for 18 years.
Brockmeyer says the school board approved the new fee without any input.
“A $100 fee for every show that we do is outrageous. Our kids aren’t going to be able to afford it. It’s really going to hurt our program,” said Brockmeyer.
The school board is trying to balance a $438 million budget for fiscal 2017. The drama fee is expected to raise $50,000.
The board also voted to double pay to play fees for sports teams from $50 to $100.
“Had there been a $100 fee to be able to do so, I would not have been able to participate,” one student said.
“The money going into the general fund will do little to actually help my students and my program,” a teacher said.
Board members got an earful from those who flooded their meeting, begging them to reconsider.
“Each child should experience a chance to fit in, a chance to work with others and a chance to enjoy something without having to worry about a certain pay,” said Marvin Dunmeyer, Harford County graduate.