When practice picks up next week for school sports in Prince George's County there'll be a big change: Students will no longer have to pay a $50 activity fee, something that's put a stress factor for some families. Prince George's County Bureau reporter Zachary Kiesch has the story.
A $50 "pay to play" fee that plagued many Prince George's County parents and student athletes in the past has been axed.
Students had to pay the fee for each sport they participated in during every school year. The fee has been in effect in the county's schools since 2011.
"Meeting with the budget officers, it was determined that the system would be able to manage without the fee," Bill Barnes, acting associate superintendent for Prince George's County Public Schools said.
The move was not only tough on students and their parents, but also on coaches.
"It was really tough to get the money," DuVal High School football coach Dameon Powell said. "We have different types of kids here. Some kids can't get it right away, some kids can."
Barnes said the fee affected participation rates in sports.
"We thought it was not equal access for all," he said.
Some student athletes who couldn't afford the fee went to extremes, DuVal High School football player Elems Ukqu told News4.
"We were looking for work, trying to ask coaches [and other father figures] if they had something for us to do, wash a car or something like that to get the money," Ukqu said.
That fee being dropped is significant to many student athletes.
"It's a relief," DuVal football player Terrence Davenport said. "It's just another bill off our chests."
"I'm paying the cable, light bill, rent and adding that $50 to football really stresses athletes and parents," Ukqu said.