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Charlotte Mecklenburg school (CMS) system has 19 marching bands. The district offers no financial support to them because marching band is considered an extra curricular activity. This means students are on their own when it comes to financially supporting the program.
Marching band members at West Mecklenburg HS have to pay $375 a year to participate. That fee pays for transportation, snacks, uniforms, and instruments.
Band Director William McLeod says that is still not enough. He says the band comes up short every year.
"Our needs are great," McLeod said. "With the things we have to do."
The band director says if the band wants to travel, it has to pay CMS about $150 each time for transportation. Money is so tight the band had to forgo several engagements this past year because of money. One canceled event, the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, NC.
"I was disappointed," the band director said. "Because this opportunity doesn't come too often and just to know we missed out on something as significant as that is disheartening for me and the kids."
Students are frustrated. They believe if the marching band had more money, the band could get more exposure, and that is important.
"For someone to work really hard on something," Marching Band Member Rae'Kwon Springs said. "And not get too much credit or hasn't been seen - it defeats the purpose."
Marching Band means a lot for Springs. He says it helps keeps student focused and in school. He is saddened more students can't take advantage of the program because they can't afford the participation fee.
"By me going to band," the student said. "I have never had to have that problem as far as going to drink with my friends or do drugs with my friends because I know that's not what a band student does."
Springs and the band director hope more money will come to the marching band program. They claim it makes a difference in students' lives. But they won't let the lack of money get them down.
"We'll still strive," the student said. "And do as much as we can with what we have."
CMS does pay for band class, not marching band. That budget has seen a 10% reduction.