PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY - Students in Prince George’s County are outraged after learning they will have to start paying for their Advanced Placement exams.
The tests used to be paid for by Prince George’s County Public Schools. But now, due to a budget decision plan, the test will no longer be paid for.
A letter went out to parents last week delivering the bad news – that after years of covering the costs of Advanced Placement tests for students in Prince George’s County – students are now going to have to foot that bill themselves.
The decision comes on the heels of Prince George’s County Public Schools being stripped of a $6.5 million Head Start program grant following allegations of abuse. The school district says the decision to make students pay for their own AP tests is simply a budget decision, but some school board members are questioning the timing between the two events.
It costs around $90 a student for each advanced placement tests and Prince George’s County Public Schools says it cannot afford the half-million dollars it spends every year on paying for the tests, so it's pulling the plug on the funding. There will be exceptions, but school board member and Parkdale High School senior Juwan Blocker says the timing is terrible.
“We are just now finding out about this, and students – they’ve just now signed up for AP classes planning on taking these tests at the end of this year. So for you to now inform students and parents to pay $93 if they're not on free or reduced lunch – that's ridiculous," said Blocker.
"We are certainly sensitive to students in extreme financial circumstances so we will continue to pay for those students who qualify for free and reduced meals and we will also pay for students who get a three, a four or a five on the exam," said Raven Hill, a spokesperson for Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Some students say they are not giving up without a fight. There is an online petition that already has 1,500 signatures. Students say they're going to pack the Board of Education meeting on October 13 to have their voices heard.