So That’s Where The Money Goes? NJ High School Pays Ashanti $20K To Visit

June 13, 2012  |  

Am I the only one who thinks paying Ashanti 20-thousand dollars to speak at a high school is a gross misuse of funds? Don’t get me wrong, I rocked out to every song Ashanti ever had on the radio, but that was 2003, and $20,000 is a lot of money to spend on an appearance by someone we’ve barely seen since then.

Apparently, Atlantic City Schools didn’t think so. According to The Associated Press:

“Officials paid singer Ashanti $20,000 for her June 1 appearance at Atlantic City High School.

The 2003 Grammy winner led assemblies, met privately with a group of middle school students and did an interview with the high school’s radio station. At the events, she encouraged students to stay in school, stay focused and have a network of family and friends to support them.

Money to pay the performer came from funds in a district budget account designated for the improvement of instructional services.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Donna Haye tells The Press of Atlantic City the school budgets for special events and officials saw the singer’s appearance as ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’ Haye said they had paid even more than $20,000 for some speakers.

Ashanti was in Atlantic City for the city’s multi-cultural festival. The city did not pay any of the performers who participated in the ‘R&B Gone But Not Forgotten’ tribute.”

So how did they come up with Ashanti of all people? They didn’t say; but, interestingly, the resolution to authorize the payment was approved by the school board and one of the members is the mayor’s wife and Ashanti’s godmother. She abstained from actually voting because of the clear conflict of interest, but she told the local press that she supported Ashanti’s appearance and was proud to have her at the school.

To the board’s credit, it seems they are at least trying to do something to better that school. Atlantic City High School was the 247th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 322 schools statewide last year.

If Ashanti’s presence really does encourage the students to stay in school and work hard, then maybe it’s worth every penny. Still, that just seems like a lot of taxpayer money for a celebrity who’s singing for free (if at all) these days. That tight dress and those 5-inch heels she wore are also a tad suspect. Plus for that kind of change, she could have at least brought Nelly. Oh well. At least she’s making headlines again. What do you say?

Do you think spending $20K on Ashanti was the best use of the school’s “improvement of instructional services” budget?

Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog: This Cannot Be My Life

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