A high school in Florida is charging parents $200 for "premium" seats with a better view of their child's graduation.
For the 2014 graduation, Manatee High School in Bradenton implemented a $20 fee for any senior who wanted to attend the ceremony. According to the Bradenton Herald, the school also started charging $200 for "premium" seating.
A group of 10 rows near the end zone of Hawkins Stadium were made available for purchase this year. Each bench cost $200 to seat about 15 people, a little more than $13 per seat. All other stadium seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The new fees are part of an effort to cover an estimated $12,000 in graduation costs for MHS after the financially strapped school district pulled its $3,400 contribution this year.
In previous years, the district gave Manatee High $3,434 to help offset the graduation costs. Manatee High won't be getting that money from the district this year....With that in mind, [Principal Don] Sauer and a team came up with the plan to sell certain rows of seating to help defray the costs. The 10 rows of seats at $200 each will bring in about $2,000. Parents were notified of the seats Monday night, through an automated phone call.
"With the budget crunch, money has become tighter and tighter," he said.
All of the premium seats sold out in less than four hours.
According to WFTS, some parents objected to the plan on the grounds that it discriminates against low income families. (The $20 attendance fee is waived for students who cannot afford it.)
"$200 is a lot of money for a preferred seating," said Mayu Fielding, whose son attends Manatee High. Fielding wondered whether the premium pricing will create division among families who plan to attend the ceremony. "Is my child more important than yours?" Fielding asked.
"It's being discriminatory," said parent Mark Domer. "Economically, socially, socio-economically, it's just not fair."
Parents who didn't get a chance to buy premium seats the first time around may get another shot—Sauer said he is considering offering more to make up for an additional $1,500 needed to cover the remaining cost of the event.
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