ST. PAUL (AP) -- Students at Central High School have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to their classroom televisions this year because the school is one of many in Minnesota that could not afford to buy enough real flags to comply with a new state law.
School officials say the decision to show an image of the American flag on the TVs is a temporary step toward providing enough flags so that students can recite the pledge once a week as the law requires, Principal Mary Mackbee said.
When the high school was repainted about five years ago, many flag holders were taken down, she said. "It's very expensive to outfit a school like this with flags and flag holders," she said.
Schools throughout the St. Paul and Minneapolis districts, already burdened with budget cuts, are struggling to provide enough flags.
Many schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul haven't said the pledge regularly for years, and making sure each classroom had a flag wasn't a priority. The St. Paul district's most recent estimate showed 1,300 classrooms without flags and 970 without flag holders.
Minneapolis' situation is similar, and that school district is planning a public plea for flag donations.
"We'll talk to American Legions that in the past have provided flags, look at business partners, see if they'll contribute," said Melissa Winter, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis public schools.
The problem appears to be confined in the metro area. School officials in St. Cloud and Rochester reported no shortage of flags.
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