The recent decision by the Atlantic City Board of Education to raise the Atlantic City Aquatic Club's pool fee to $85,000 per year is unconscionable. The current cost to have a child participate in the aquatic club is $50 per quarter, a total of $200 per year. The new cost will be $300 per quarter or $1,200 a year - a staggering sum for families, some of whom already struggle to come up with an extra $50 per quarter. This will effectively eliminate ACAC as an option for many families.

The ACAC has provided children of Atlantic City and the surrounding communities with tightly managed, caring and highly competent adult coaching and encouragement for many years. Fully 60 percent of the youngsters who train with ACAC are Atlantic City residents. Where will these kids go?

As a professional educator and school nurse for many years, I understand the need for the development of the whole child. Academics, physical pursuits, individual development and participation in team endeavors all help youngsters develop their full potential.

I ask the individuals who have made this devastating decision to reconsider. Haven't we heard enough of the violence and mayhem infecting Atlantic City? Many people have said that what Atlantic City needs is a miracle. There are miracles - in programs such as ACAC, where kids are nurtured, where they find they have intrinsic value and where they learn they have an obligation to themselves and their team in a sport that they may pursue through high school, college and into their adult lives.

The decision to wreck this program by raising the fee was a serious error in judgment. Please reconsider and allow this program to shine as the beacon it has become for the youth of our area.

DIANE M. McMANUS

Ocean City