Florida high school pays for graduation by selling $200 ‘prime seating’ for guests

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 18:21 EDT
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A Bradenton, Florida high school covered the cost of its graduation ceremony in part by selling “prime seating” spots at $200 per row, WTVT-TV reported.

“It ends up being about 2 percent of our seats, paid for 25 percent of our graduation fees,” Manatee High School principal Don Sauer was quoted as saying.

The Bradenton Herald reported that the school made 10 rows available for $200 apiece near the endzone of the school’s home field, Hawkins Stadium. Each row can accomodate 15 people, and the seats reportedly sold out within four hours on Tuesday, though Sauer said he was considering making another two “prime” rows available.

The special pricing was implemented to offset the $12,000 cost for the ceremony after the Manatee County School District told officials it would not be able to continue its annual $3,400 contribution.

“It’s due to the district’s financial situation that it stopped providing funding to Manatee HS for their graduation costs,” district spokesperson Steve Valley told the Herald in an email.

The district did pay $7,387 to rent the Bradenton Area Convention Center for five other high schools’ graduations, scheduled to be held between May 29 and May 31. But Sauer told the Herald that the building can only hold between 3,000 and 3,500 guests, roughly half of the projected attendance at Manatee’s ceremony, so he opted to keep the event in the stadium instead of limiting the amount of guests. Non-”prime” seating will still be available at the stadium on a first-come, first-served basis.

The school also implemented a $20 fee for seniors taking part in the ceremony, which Sauer told WTVT was a common practice in the district. But he also said that he was open to waiving the fee for students unable to contribute.

“I am not here to make money off my kids,” he was quoted as saying.

Watch WTVT’s report, as aired on Wednesday, below.

[Image: "Pretty Female Student Thinking," via Shutterstock]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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