Prince George’s County Public Schools will charge students $50 to play interscholastic sports beginning next school year. Superintendent William Hite announced the move on Thursday as a way to maintain programs despite significant revenue cuts for the 2011-12 school year.

“We’re doing this out of necessity,” Prince George’s Athletic Director Earl Hawkins said. “We would have loved to kept the status quo, but that wasn’t happening.”

A handful of other area jurisdictions already charge students for the opportunity to play sports.

Prince George’s will charge the fee once per athlete per school year, and it covers varsity and junior varsity teams. Families unable to afford the fee may request a modified payment plan or a waiver, the school system announced.

Previously, Prince George’s had eliminated its middle school sports program beginning next school year, but Hawkins said no other cuts are planned.

“We knew the budget was going to be tough for this coming year and from the beginning of the FY ’12 budget process we had already started to look at an athletic activity fee,” Hawkins said. “There were no other options.”

It is estimated the fee will raise about $300,000 annually, Hawkins said.