Community fights for art programs at school
by Andrew Pavia
Oct 18, 2012 | 3046 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With city schools cutting back on programming in arts and music due to budget cuts, one school is fighting for both. The Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School in Clinton Hill is scheduled to have its third floor taken over by a elementary charter school. While the addition of the charter school students would not eliminate arts programs entirely, it would cut them severely. “If the charter school moves in, it’s going to change the essence of the building,” said parent Celia Green at a rally in front of the school last week. “Right now, this is the only school in District 13 that has a specialized arts program, so it's not like they can just go to another school.” Dezeray Lynch, a 6th grade student at McKinney, spoke about how important the third floor is to her and her fellow students. “That space is used to take students one step further to their dreams and teach them new things,” she said. Parents and elected officials criticized the Department of Education (DOE) for the way it handled the notification process regarding the charter school, as well as adding new students. “It is so disrespectful to march themselves in here without us agreeing to the idea,” Lynch said, stating that DOE only notified the principal of the school 12 hours before the announcement was made public. David Pena, a spokesperson for the DOE responded to the comments made at the rally and said programs will not suffer. He said, "This co-location will not limit the school's ability to provide specialized art classes. The DOW will continue to accommodate the specialty needs for the McKinney arts program." About midway through the rally, the school's marching band joined the protest to underscore the importance of arts programs to the school. Calling the band to join the rally was Councilwoman Letitia James, who said that the addition of a charter school was simply a bad idea. “To take away the third floor would basically cut out the heart of this school,” she said. James also said that DOE used faulty data in making its decision. “They said [the enrollment] was 440, the actual number is 510,” she said. “They got it wrong. DOE has failed to use accurate data in analyzing the utilization and capacity of this school.”
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