DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - DeKalb County families will have to cover the fees for Advanced Placement exams come May 2013.
Parents tell Channel 2's Carl Willis they first learned about the changes earlier this week when the DeKalb County School District sent a letter home to parents.
The letter cites a cut in the Georgia Department of Education budget for the changes regarding the challenging courses that offer college credit.
"For several years, Georgia Department of Education budget (GADOE) and the DeKalb County School District have appropriated funds that covered all fees associated with Advanced Placement (AP) exams for all students," wrote Carolyn Williams, principal of Southwest DeKalb High School.
"The state's budget includes a sharp reduction in these funds this year. As a result, the Georgia Department of Education budget will fund only one exam for Free/Reduced Lunch students this year (as opposed to funding all such exams in the previous years)," she wrote. "GADOE is unable to fund any exams for those who are not Free/Reduced Lunch recipients (as opposed to funding one exam for these students in previous years). These conditions will require many families to cover the costs of their student's exam(s)."
"My initial reaction was, 'Let me read this again,'" said Denisha Seals. "'This can't be right.'"
Seals' daughter is a junior at Southwest DeKalb High School, currently enrolled in two AP courses. She'll take five in her senior year.
"Now my child is wondering 'OK, I'm in this AP course, I'm doing very well. Am I going to be able to take the test? How is this going to affect me graduating," said Seals.
DeKalb families will now pay $89 per exam -- or $53 for Free/Reduced free/reduced price lunch recipients who qualify.
"It's the principle of the thing," said Seals. "Students shouldn't have to worry about that, and parents shouldn't have to do 'Abracadabra' and pull money when it is not there," said Seals.
DeKalb is not alone. Parents in other school districts, including Atlanta Public Schools, have to pay the exam fees. Some DeKalb County schools are planning fundraisers, and others are taking applications for scholarships that would pay the fees.
Still, Seals fears the change could force some to avoid the courses all together.
"This is going to deter students from even attending," she said. Seals said parents are scheduling a meeting to figure out how to proceed and plan on showing up in numbers to the next school board meeting. "What we do now affects the future," she said.
A meeting for parents of magnet school students is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 6-7 p.m. in the Southwest DeKalb High School cafeteria.