To the Editor:
The MVTimes school budget reporting of Oct. 24 was in-depth and informative in many ways. These are challenging times economically and educationally. Many of your readers will want to know that the elementary strings program, part of the shared services budget, was also discussed in this meeting. In the interest of a full community dialogue before the budget comes up for a vote on Nov. 19, I quote here from the Vineyard Gazette:
“…a (school) committee member representing Tisbury said she saw room for cutting at the strings program, part of the Island-wide enrichment programs covered by the shared services budget. ‘The strings program is obviously one area where it’s privilege,’ she said, adding later: ‘I don’t see it as essential to educating our children.'”
“‘You may remember that a couple of years ago, we proposed eliminating the Felix Neck, the Yard and the Strings program, but we didn’t get very far,” [school superintendent James] Weiss said. “But we are now at a point where we have to make difficult decisions.'”
School committee member Michael Marcus said he didn’t feel so grim about Mr. Weiss’s presentation. “I am not so gloomy about the whole thing,” he said. “It’s a little bit of it is what it is, and costs go up and we provide a level of service and we provide an outstanding level of service to the kids of our community, and I am proud that we do it…. I have no intention of cutting back on the level of quality of the product that we put out in our community for education.'”
I will keep my personal comments to a minimum. According to my math, the combined salaries for the one full-time and one half-time string teacher who cover 150 children in five schools appears to be on a par with one student’s special educational expenses. It’s apples to oranges, and I truly do believe that good quality special education programs are necessary and the right thing to do. There are no villains here. However will “cutting at strings” fix the situation in any significant way? I think it is worth noticing a good deal when we see it.
Editor’s Note: The writer is an instructor in the elementary strings program.