Arts coordinator to remain -- in some capacity
It was a full house at last night's school budget forum. Most of the people filling the room were protesting the elimination of the fine arts coordinator position, and many of the rest there to advocate keeping Edison's contract to run three elementary schools. I'll be writing more about Edison in the next few days.
As for the arts coordinator: Dr. Alonso said it was an oversight that the position was cut from the organizational chart, but he never intended the function to go away. He would not guarantee that a person would be in the position full-time but said someone will still be in charge of the outside partnerships, event coordination, professional development, artwork display, etc. (A few kids had some very cute testimony about how good they feel to see their artwork displayed at North Avenue, all thanks to the arts coordinator, even if he did spell one boy's brother's name wrong on the display in the hallway.) Many in the audience were dressed in orange because, as one of the commenters told us yesterday, it is arts coordinator Larry Friend's favorite color.
Even after Dr. Alonso assured the audience members that he shares the commitment to the arts and was supporting their cause, the testimony continued -- and morphed into pleas for more arts coordinators in the central office like there used to be. Alonso grew more and more visibly annoyed as the night went on, reiterating that 1) the overwhelming majority of resources need to be in schools, 2) he needs to create a model that's sustainable in uncertain economic times and 3) having a bunch of arts coordinators in the central office before did not bring about a system of great art programs. The quality varies greatly, he said, but more schools have arts programs and partnerships this year under the decentralized funding model than in the past.
No one testified about the downsizing of the other content-related offices at North Avenue, but Don Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, wrote a letter to the system this week questioning the merging of the math, science and technology offices.