Howard to give schools money for post-prom parties

$2,000 per school will come from drug seizures

March 11, 2010|By John-John Williams IV |

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman announced Wednesday that he will donate $2,000 to all 12 county high schools for their post-prom party efforts. The $24,000 will come from money seized during drug-related crimes.

Each school's "Project Safe and After Prom" will receive the grant money to help defray the costs of facility rental, food, refreshments and entertainment. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon at Reservoir High School in Fulton.

"This announcement is about prioritizing two of our most fundamental resources: public safety and education," Ulman said in a prepared statement. "Project Safe and After Prom allows our PTSAs to utilize education and prevention to show today's youth how to have fun and be responsible at the same time by eliminating the dangers of drugs and alcohol."

School-sanctioned after-prom parties have become popular in Howard County and across the country. Last year, 64 percent of prom-goers in Howard attended these school-sanctioned parties, compared to 40 percent in 2005.

As the popularity of the events has increased, so have the financial demands. Schools have traditionally held fundraisers throughout the year to help pay for the parties. Ulman was approached by a number of parents in the past year asking for financial support from the local government, which led to the idea of using drug forfeiture money, according to Kevin Enright, the Howard County director of the Office of Public Information.

"That is an extremely generous contribution that is going to be greatly appreciated," said school system spokeswoman Patti Caplan. "I know how much time and effort the PTAs put into raising money for the post-prom parties. This is a very positive use for those funds."

The money comes from cash or property confiscated in drug-related crimes. The county has the ability to retain the cash or sell any drug-related items and keep the cash from the sale. That money is deposited into a county-controlled drug asset forfeiture fund.

"These after-prom events are key to keeping our teens safe during the prom season, when statistics show traffic deaths among teens are higher than any other time of year," Police Chief William McMahon said in a prepared statement. "This grant will allow us to better protect our kids on a night when we know students are out and may be tempted by the dangers of drugs and alcohol."

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