Highline School Arts Workstudy Meeting Is April 15th

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest column from Highline School District Music Teacher and jazz artist Sandra Locklear. The B-Town Blog welcomes all Writers and Opinions, and if you have something to say…email us!]

by Sandra Locklear

Remember middle or high school choir?

That’s a thing of the past in our school district!

But because of the current budget crisis and the need to determine how next year’s district budget will be spent, there now exists a window of opportunity to restore our cut music programs! On behalf of the students in our district, let’s show our School Board how serious we are about getting back our choirs and keeping our band programs functioning during the regular school day. Bernie Dorsey, our new School Board President, is a Highline High School graduate and is open to change. He said that the more people that show up to fill the room, the more likely we are to get results!

Tell everybody you know and bring others with you – please read on and try to come to this very important meeting:

WHO: Highline School District School Board

WHAT: Fine Arts Programs Work Study Session: http://www.hsd401.org/ourdistrict/board/boardmeetingschedule.htm – see specs below

WHEN: Wednesday, April 15th at 6pm (confirm on website or call district office at 206.433-2217) UPDATE: The Work Study Session begins at 6pm, and Fine Arts won’t be discussed until 7pm, from 7-8pm.

The actual schedule is:

Athletics/Activities: 6-7 PM
Fine Arts 7-8 PM

WHERE: ERAC (HSD district offices next to Hi-Line Lanes bowling alley, across from Azteca), located at 15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW in Burien.

WHY: To find solutions to reinstate music programs in our school district. Due to No Child Left Behind, Small Schools, the WASL, and site-based decision making, our district has lost all choral programs (except at Mt. Rainier HS and Pacific MS). Additionally, the Fine Arts Director position was axed in 2005 as well as the centralized music budget. What we are requesting: a HSD policy advocating music during the regular school day at every grade level K-12; reinstatement of our choral programs at the middle and high school level; reinstatement of a Fine Arts Director (part-time is better than nothing); reinstatement of a centralized music budget for instrument and music purchases and repairs. For a more extensive analysis, see the links below.

Important Note Regarding Work Studies: Unlike school board meetings, people are not allowed to speak at Work Study Sessions unless specifically called upon by a Board Member, i.e., to answer a question a Board Member may have. Please do not allow this to deter you from coming! The Board is very interested in seeing exactly how much community support there is for determining a new direction for the arts and music programs in our district.

Upcoming Board Meetings: If there is something you have to say to your School Board between now and April 15 regarding music programs in our district, you have 3 opportunities: at the Mar. 11, Mar. 25, and April 8 School Board Meetings. Please note: Those who want to share their thoughts with the School Board can do so as a “scheduled” speaker during the Communication portion of the agenda. Scheduled speakers must call the District Office at 206.433.2217 by 12 p.m. on the day of the meeting in order to be included on the agenda, and are allotted 5 minutes to speak. Those who wish to address the School Board but have not called to sign up to speak by the noon deadline may sign-up to speak for 2 minutes during the Unscheduled Communication portion, toward the end of the meeting.

WHY “NOW IS THE TIME!”: Upcoming HSD Budget Work Study Sessions: The window of opportunity exists now to reinstate music programs, as our state and school district are facing unprecedented budget cuts, to the tune of $5-8 million.

How will cuts be determined?

Proposed cuts will be based on:

  • School board direction
  • Community and parent input
  • Analysis by staff

What can you do?

  • Voice your opinion on proposed cuts
  • Complete a survey now
  • Fill out online comment form at www.hsd401.org
  • Comment at a school board meeting
  • Attend a board budget work session: March 25, April 22, May 27 – Budget Plan to be Finalized in June 2009
  • Communicate with your legislator. Online: www.leg.wa.gov By phone: 1.800.562.6000

To get the full scope and gist of Fine Arts issues in the HSD, read Sandra’s article she wrote for the Highline Times on Oct. 22, 2008: http://www.highlinetimes.com/articles/2008/10/20/interact/columnists/column03.txt

Research backing: There is a lot of research out there validating the importance of music in public education, here are a couple of them:

Sandra Locklear has been a music educator in our district since 1991 and now finds herself in the role of arts activist due to the “dismal state of the arts in our district.”

She can be contacted through her website at www.sandralocklear.com.

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