JPS Board Drops Music Program | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JPS Board Drops Music Program

photo

Today's Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting has been cancelled. Board member Jonathan Larkin, above, voted Tuesday to keep an MSO music program in the schools.

The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees failed to renew funding for a music education program yesterday, effectively discontinuing a 42-year-old collaboration with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. Board members voted 2-2 on renewing the program. Members Jonathan Larkin and Ann Jones voted for renewal, and Delmer Stamps and Ivory Phillips voted in opposition. Board President Sollie Norwood was absent due to illness.

The music program serves JPS elementary students by bringing in certified professional musicians from the MSO to teach string instruments twice a week. The program also brings MSO performers to every JPS elementary school and buses students to several full orchestra concerts a year. JPS spends roughly $300,000 per year on the program, $60,000 of which goes to administrative costs.

"The district didn't have to cut this," Larkin told the Jackson Free Press. "I was disgusted by the actions the board took in not renewing it. There are now over 400 students in JPS who have made arrangements to either purchase or rent instruments."

A violin typically costs $60 to rent for the year, according to MSO Executive Director Michael Beattie.

"We're very disappointed, and we're concerned for the students," Beattie said.

The program's demise could affect JPS students in more ways than their artistic development. Numerous academic studies link arts education to improved academic performance, especially in foreign language and math.

"You can document that students who are in music programs on average do better," Larkin said.

Stamps and Phillips did not immediately return calls for comment. At yesterday's meeting, Phillips argued in favor of saving money by replacing instructors from the symphony with university students. Associate Superintendent Wilbur Walters told board members that the district was looking into such an arrangement, but that a replacement program would not be ready until next school year. Larkin said that Phillips was mistaken, however, in thinking that the district could use university students in the same capacity.

"Dr. Phillips believed that we can use students from local universities who are in music programs to teach," Larkin said. "The issue with that is that the state Department of Education requires certified teachers to be teaching these programs. Students at the local colleges are not certified. The only way they could be certified is if they are graduate students in music who already have education degrees."

Previous Comments

ID
152783
Comment

What a mistake! With two kids who are in the strings program, there is no way I would consider moving back to Jackson now. This is a HUGE deal breaker.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2009-10-21T12:26:59-06:00
ID
152785
Comment

This is really sad. Phillips and Stamps should be ashamed of themselves. A very stupid and ignorant decision it seems to me.

Author
blkjazz
Date
2009-10-21T12:53:00-06:00
ID
152787
Comment

This is horrifying! DON'T cut the arts programs, cut SPORTS! Music, theatre, visual arts and dance grow intelligent young people.

Author
theatrediva
Date
2009-10-21T12:55:25-06:00
ID
152791
Comment

How could Phillips recommend using University Students who are majoring in music? They are trying to become educated in their discipline. Does he think that these students will work free? I hated to see Phillips added to the school board. Now I know for sure that it was not a good idea. I also wonder what is Norwood's position; especially after his coporal punishment ideas didn't take root.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-10-21T13:12:09-06:00
ID
152792
Comment

This is terrible. I just wrote an email to the Board of Trustees communicating my disgust. I have been in this city for 5 months. I was very sad to send my 1st grader to JPS, and after we heard about the strings program, I was heartened. This district underperforms in almost every category, but at least they offered a string program. I agree with Lady Havoc. This is a deal breaker, and I'm looking for a home in the donut!

Author
Krystal
Date
2009-10-21T13:18:27-06:00
ID
152793
Comment

http://www.jackson.k12.ms.us/content.aspx?url=/page/699 For anyone who wants to let them know how they feel.

Author
Krystal
Date
2009-10-21T13:19:54-06:00
ID
152795
Comment

I'd like to know more about the school board's procedure. I don't understand how an existing program can be cancelled in this way. Granted, there was not a majority vote to continue the program, but neither was there a majority vote to discontinue it. Why do the no votes count more? When votes are split down the middle, why isn't an issue tabled until a majority can be reached with all board members present? Could someone please explain this?

Author
chaffeur
Date
2009-10-21T13:39:11-06:00
ID
152798
Comment

I'm with you, chaffeur. A tie vote should mean that it did not pass. If would only seem logical and rational for the vote to be tabled and submitted again for a second time. I think that the rules of the game are made up on a whateverIthink basis.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-10-21T14:11:10-06:00
ID
152799
Comment

Typical JPS. Always eager to shoot themselves in the foot with as large a gun as possible.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-10-21T14:22:29-06:00
ID
152800
Comment

Terrible decision.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-10-21T14:35:07-06:00
ID
152801
Comment

To clarify the board's procedure, I spoke with Dorian Turner, the attorney for the school board. She explained that they rule by majority, but when it splits like it did (2 - 2), that rules as a failed motion. It is not totally dead and can be brought up again, which it was in the meeting. However, with another split vote, the motion had to rest. FYI, justjess and chauffer.

Author
nyoung
Date
2009-10-21T15:59:17-06:00
ID
152802
Comment

Such a counterproductive decision. So inconsistent with building a high quality school system. Music can give some light to students who otherwise find school less than bright and it can energize them to address other aspects of learning. I have emailed the board and the 2 members who voted to do away with the music system. I appreciate having the link to do so.

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-10-21T17:42:33-06:00
ID
152804
Comment

My Dad taught me that if you buy good tools, and take good care of them, it may cost more initially, but they will do the job better and last a lifetime. If you buy cheap tools, the job will not be as good, and you will buy a lot of cheap tools, ultimately spending more and getting less quality product than if you make a good investment. Lets see, professional musicians who are certified to teach, build relationships, and then perform for your kids, or college students who will move on after one or two years who have no experience and are not certified teachers. Oh, my. Please, do not sever this tie you have with your community orchestra. By definition, they are part of your community. College students are temporary visitors.

Author
xenatuba
Date
2009-10-22T06:35:16-06:00
ID
152805
Comment

I am deeply saddened by this ill-thought out move by the school board. If this vote is not reversed by the board, and soon, it will be a huge loss to this community, as well as to the children in the program. This time-testing, award winning program has provided inner city children opportunities to enrich their basic education and reach for higher goals for 4 decades. The synergy with the Symphony program has also given this community an incredibly unique technique of providing additional funding to professional musicians (for additional work, of course) that allows us to attract higher quality musicians that might otherwise be the case, while at the same time, providing the children with incredibly gifted instructors/mentors that would could never afford without the symphony base subsidy of salaries for these musicians. I am truly disturbed at this action. I RECOMMEND THAT EVERYONE START CALLING THE MAYOR AND THE SUPERINTENDENT NOW TO VOICE YOUR CONCERNS. If the public does not speak out, we may very well lose this priceless program.

Author
Pops
Date
2009-10-22T08:08:59-06:00
ID
152807
Comment

It is my understanding that the Board will be meeting again this Friday at noon and this item may be on the agenda. Please attend and voice your opinion. A huge sticking point is that the Orchestra currently rents the instruments to interested students for a very nominal fee. (Most families who participate in this program can't afford to rent/purchase from a music store.) JSU simply doesn't have the instruments to rent to the students. Along that same line - most students have already either rented from the Orchestra or rented/purchased an instrument from a music store. The parents of these children are now hanging out in the breeze. Additionally (as I understand) No Student Left Behind requires that instructors have their Bachelor's degree. There is no way that any group (other than the Orchestra) could pull together that much talent to serve so many schools. I've already e-mailed the Board, but won't be able to attend tomorrow's meeting because I'll be out of town. Again - Those who can - please attend.

Author
br549
Date
2009-10-22T08:22:27-06:00
ID
152817
Comment

Does anyone know when and where one could attend the meeting scheduled for Friday?

Author
Krystal
Date
2009-10-22T11:12:10-06:00
ID
152818
Comment

I believe the school board meets at: Jackson Public Schools 621 S. State St. Jackson, MS 39201 The phone # is listed as 601-960-8725.

Author
br549
Date
2009-10-22T12:22:59-06:00
ID
152823
Comment

This is ridiculous. I guess the arts are not important in this state anymore? I hope they know that the smartest people are usually musicians..this is quite disturbing. Wow. Shame on those two who voted against.

Author
m1358
Date
2009-10-22T17:01:42-06:00
ID
152824
Comment

If the issue is saving money, they why did they pay the former superintendent $200,000+ to 'consult' with the district while also paying the new superintendent $200,000. Go figure! And don't believe for a minute that Sollie Norwood isn't calling the shots from his sickbed. Even if the matter is brought up after Norwood returns, he will bloc vote along with Phillips and Stamps, if for no other reason than to vote against the wishes of Jones and Larkin. You can bet on it! There's way too much factional politics on the school board, and much of it is rooted in some Board members' desire to strip the superintendent of his authority by vetoing everything he proposes. They (notably Norwood, Phillips and Stamps) seem to be hell bent on micromanaging the day-to-day operational affairs of the District, a role that should be exclusively reserved unto the superintendent. Our children, and our community, deserve much better. Like Pops, I am truly disturbed; it's simply disgusting.

Author
Kacy
Date
2009-10-22T17:10:59-06:00
ID
152828
Comment

Did any school board members research the impact that dissolving this program would have on the students? Did anyone think of the children? Did anyone seek to find out the benefits that this program has provided for former students? It is very disturbing to think that we have allowed careless, unconcerned, and impulsive people to determine what is best for our children. What will they cut next, funding for books or teacher’s pay? The board meeting is tomorrow at noon. All parents should show up in mass numbers. No one else is fighting for your children, you should.

Author
Fighting 4 My Kids
Date
2009-10-22T19:20:34-06:00
ID
152830
Comment

Thank you to Dick Molpus who spoke so passionately at the ribbon cutting tonight for Casey Elementary school. Casey is a Whole Arts school and premiere elementary here in Jackson. Included in the new addition to Casey is a Strings room that now will sit empty unless this decision is reversed. Mr. Molpus kindly introduced the Board members and expressed to the parents and people attending who had voted yes and who had voted no. Rest assured the board members had a good sense of the feeling regarding the decision. I believe Mr. Stamps was swamped with parents expressing their extreme displeasure in the situation. Please, please speak out for this cause. My older daughter has played violin for 5 years and started out with the Strings program at Casey and my younger daughter was following the same path. It is a terrible shame.

Author
tiffitch
Date
2009-10-22T19:37:32-06:00
ID
152831
Comment

What's remarkable is that many people want to give the board members who voted this way a stronger voting bloc. Wake up, folks.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-10-22T19:45:08-06:00
ID
152841
Comment

I just called the Board of Trustee's office and today's meeting has been cancelled. No word on when it will be rescheduled - possibly Monday or Tuesday.

Author
Krystal
Date
2009-10-23T10:32:38-06:00
ID
152844
Comment

They also spend money on some classrooms for four year-olds where they have to recruit children out of Head Start classrooms where they are already being taught by teachers with degrees in a center accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children --- the gold standard of early childhood education. If money is a problem then you should not duplicate high quality services offered by a federal program.

Author
FreeClif
Date
2009-10-23T13:16:55-06:00
ID
152852
Comment

I am a student in the strings program and I am very disappointed in this decision!

Author
Acacia
Date
2009-10-24T16:00:52-06:00
ID
152855
Comment

Acacia, We seldom get young people like you responding to an issue like this. Comments usually come from parents or interested adults. It does my heart good to read a comment from a student who actually participats in the string program register their feelings. Just know that we are also disappointed and that you are not alone in your desire to keep this great program going for yourself and others and also for future generations of children. String in there!

Author
justjess
Date
2009-10-26T09:40:46-06:00
ID
152856
Comment

Want to write something for the paper about it, Acacia? If so, write me at [email protected] Anyone else?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-10-26T09:51:19-06:00
ID
152864
Comment

Thank u very much justjess 4 the kind words :) A lot of people don't realize how many(although not VERY many) students really have been affected by this. It furiates me to know that they feel that the arts are not vital to educating young minds, like myself and others my age...I am 1000% against this decision and I don't intend to sit back and watch this happen...

Author
Acacia
Date
2009-10-26T15:29:34-06:00

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus