Unexpected middle school concert fee hits sour note

Posted: Monday, May 02, 2005

As a grandmother to a Kenai Middle School student, I was pleased to be invited to attend the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Middle School Mass Choir Festival. I always enjoyed such festivals when my children were in school. The music tonight (April 25) was wonderful. The children were delightful. The guest director was enjoyable.

But that all came after our first introduction to the evening. We had all settled into our chosen seats when we were asked to leave immediately in order to pay for the coming performance.

Now, really, it was not so bad that we were asked to pay to sit in the theatre to listen to our children and grandchildren perform. That is not really the point. The point is that nobody knew that payment would be required until five minutes before the program was slated to begin.

We had no clue until Renee Henderson entered the auditorium and demanded that everyone leave said auditorium to pay for the privilege of hearing their children sing.

At that point, many disgruntled comments were heard.

Question: Why was no notice sent to the families prior to this concert?

This is a time when many families have little discretionary spending money. In fact, one of the middle schools involved in the concert recently has opened a closet-store for students whose families are unable to adequately clothe them. This should give each of us pause.

What of the parents who might have driven from as far away as Anchor Point and Homer, did any of them know? It would be distressing to have come so far, spent who knows how much money on gas at local stations, and probably a golden arches meal or two prior to the concert, and then discover that the families needed to pay, also.

If our school district is so strapped that KCHS auditorium must charge for each adult and student to attend a mandatory concert, then the very least they could do is provide advance notice. I overheard one mother say that if she had known she would have brought her checkbook.

And, she might have been the exception. Not everyone gets paid on a weekly basis. Many folks are only paid biweekly or even monthly. Without due notice and budgeting, they might not have been able to pay. I noted that not everyone who exited returned. And that makes me sad. Sad, and a bit angry.

A little advanced planning would have cost a lot less than the angry feelings caused by this poor display.

I hope that future events will have better communication for all ahead of time. At least a month in advance. These kids had been practicing for at least that long to get ready for the performance.

It is a sad state of affairs that the auditorium for which our property tax dollars are paying requires additional funding for these mandatory performances.

Barbara Waters, Kenai

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