You are not far off base with this. With the rising costs, this will be here before you know it. I've actually had superintendents ask me about this, and what would have to be done to regulate it.
The problem with the money that is spent, is that it is getting further and further away from the "teaching" that makes these programs great. Design is starting to be rewarded over content.
Yeah, yeah, the argument about "even with all the props and perfect design, the show still has to be taught"....that's correct.....however, it is much easier to mask deficiencies in certain areas with a carefully placed prop, or a voice-over, or multiple minutes of synth repetition, or placing a struggling marcher on the movement of a backdrop screen, which removes the teaching aspect altogether.
And then there's "These communities are able to afford high fees associated with our program".....just because some of these communities CAN afford it, doesn't mean we should require them to pony up. Marching Band is becoming more expensive than Dance, Drill, and Cheer in some places. I bet you would see a direct correlation with the money that some schools spend from their budget, compared to the cost of those programs' student fees. In other words, it's not just tax payer money we are using to fund these costs.....we are actually hitting up these families TWICE by requiring student fees.
If we don't start getting these costs under control, someone will come in and do it for us.