Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In Which We Descend, in Force, on the Indian River School Board Meeting

We went to this evening's meeting of the Indian River School Board in support of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts (SDSA), which is under some threat from School Board budget cutters.

I've been tracking this story, which has been covered by the News Journal (Parents fear arts school will close), the Cape Gazette (School of the Arts may be facing budget cuts),
and on local television.

The Board meeting was fascinating. I was surprised at the extensive pomp and circumstance built into the meeting. It started with a deeply Christian prayer to start the meeting, continued through a solemn color-guard procession, and featured a strictly regimented Board agenda with time limits on speakers and warnings not to mention teachers, administrators or students by name because personnel matters have to be discussed in executive session. It was most baroque.

We packed the meeting room with school supporters sporting SDSA stickers. That's mine above. The public comment sections of the agenda included many statements of support for the School of the Arts. A student group including Honor Society and Student Government members -- my girls among them -- gave a multi-media presentation (singing, dancing, public speaking, sign-holding, and public painting) about SDSA. Parents spoke about the positive affect the School has had on their kids.

Even other segments of the agenda showed the value of the School of the Arts. The board honored high-achieving Indian River High school students. A good portion of them -- especially among those named to all state chorus and all-state band -- were SDSA graduates.

The school board members said at the meeting, and are saying in press coverage, that they -- at this point -- have no plans to close or cut SDSA. But we know that we need to keep the pressure on and make sure that they know that if they mess with the School, they will be messing around with one of their best schools, and they will face a motivated and dedicated group of parents, friends and graduates.

We're watching.

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