Newcastle schools to charge activity fee

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NEWCASTLE, Okla. – Newcastle public schools will be getting some big changes next school year, and word about those changes is buzzing around town.

Wednesday afternoon, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce posted a picture of a letter to their Facebook page.

It’s from the Newcastle superintendent and is addressed to parents regarding several changes that are coming in the fall.

"We will be implementing an activity fee for all of our competition type based activities. That will be $100 for your first activity, $50 for your second activity,” said Tony O’Brien, the Newcastle superintendent.

All activities after that will be free.

"That's for kids who do not qualify for the free and reduced lunch. If you qualify for reduced, then it's $50, $25 respectively. If you qualify for free, it will be nothing,” O’Brien said.

The changes will also include cutting field trips, and all schools will be going to four-day weeks.

"Right now, Newcastle has not cut any programming, zero. We haven't let any coaches go due to budget cuts or faculty members, and we're trying to maintain that level,” O’Brien said.

Once the letter was posted on Facebook, the comments started pouring in.

Some parents are outraged they will have to pay for their children’s activities, while others are okay with it.

"I'm 100 percent okay with having to pay fees for our children to do extracurricular activities, because I believe your public education is free not actually getting to do extracurricular activities,” said Misty McKinnon, a Newcastle parent.

However, McKinnon said she doesn’t agree with the opt out for students who qualify for the free and reduced lunch programs.

“I believe that, if someone's going to pay the fee, everybody should pay the fee,” McKinnon said.

Some of the other changes include gate ticket prices rising from $5 to $7 as well as larger class sizes.

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