BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - There are talented high school bands in Birmingham, but many are having to make do when it comes to uniforms.
Crystal Harmon’s daughter plays flute at Ramsay High School. “The band hats are all torn apart. They are stapled together - some pinned together. The plums are gone,” Harmon said.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin caught many off guard saying the city should pickup the cost of new band uniforms. “We the city of Birmingham purchase band uniforms on behalf of seven high schools because our students deserve the best,” Woodfin said.
The cost is expected to be more than $250,000. The money will come from leftover funding in the city budget excess tax.
Harmon said this is welcome news for her daughter and school. “We don’t come to work wearing dirty, raggedy outfits. So why should the children go out there to support the school in less than something nice?” Harmon said.
The mayor has yet to formally present the council with a proposal.
Councilwoman Lashunda Scales supports high school bands, but she also says the city has to deal with priorities such as crime. “Before we do anything else, we got to get rid of our crime to the best of our ability of putting things in place so our people fell safe in Birmingham,” Scales said.
Chris McMillan is the band director at Ramsay and says anytime the city speaks of supporting students and the arts, it’s a positive thing.
He says the band uniforms at Ramsay are over 20 years old, and it’s certainly time for a change.
"To have nice, crisp new uniforms to accentuate the look and not take away from that. They would be over the moon excited for that,” McMillan says.
Besides Ramsay High, we know Parker High’s band is also in need of new uniforms.
Earlier this year, the A.H. Parker United Alumni Association started a GoFundMe site to raise money to help with their efforts.
Supporters say city funding would take a huge load off of parents who can spend anywhere from $300 to $500 on new uniforms.
"I’m finally glad to see the city’s taking interest in our children because our children are our future and for them to step up and be willing to do that and I just hope the council follows suit as Mayor Woodfin has done,” says past president Gwendolyn May.
Mayor Woodfin is expected to propose the band uniform plan for the council to consider next week.