The fees would take effect when the 2013-2014 school year begins in this fall and would be paid to each child's school, Kranefeld explained.

Getting public attention

The audience was largely silent after Grambo adjourned the board meeting.

Standing outside the Roberty Building, Mike Moore, a seventh-grade science teacher at Fallston Middle School, said he had spent 10 years teaching, five in Anne Arundel County and five in Harford.

He said he and his wife moved to Harford when they could afford the cost of living and teaching salaries were comparable to Anne Arundel.

"Now it's to the point where we can't afford to have kids," Moore said.

Emily Briggs, who has spent four years teaching in Harford, came from New Jersey with her husband via the BRAC process. She teaches math and math intervention to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at North Harford Middle School, and chose Harford County Public Schools over Cecil County because of the reputation of the school system and the teachers' union.

"It was a win getting pay-to-play passed," Briggs said of the activity fees. "Hopefully that'll get the community involved and get their attention."

Moore said "it's unfortunate that the county doesn't fully fund education and it forces the (school) board to make tough decisions."

School officials stated they would remain in contact with parents and community members as the details of the changes for next year are put together. Anyone with questions on the budget can e-mail budget@hcps.org, or visit the school system's website at http://www.hcps.org to view a "Frequently Asked Questions" page being developed.