Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Music students protest funding split




By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They were small but their protest was big and loud. More than 100 students from Cincinnati Public Schools Suzuki String Program partially blocked the district's Education Center hallway before Monday's Board of Education meeting. They want the district to reject a proposal to divide the Suzuki music program funding evenly among all schools.

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Clare Suffern, 6, and Samantha Vesio Steinkamp, 7, join the protest.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        Right now the district allocates about $140,000 to have the program in four elementary schools. About 220 students are in the music program, which is based on a teaching the ory developed in Japan.

        Most parents also pay a fee.

        “We don't want to lose our program,” said 11-year-old Susan Cunningham of North Avondale Montessori. She was one of the 100-plus students who played several songs, including variations on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” in hopes of having board members decide against the new school funding proposal.

        District officials are considering equalizing funding for all elementary students and giving the same funding per student for all high school students.

        Board of Education President Rick Williams has said the district has been making deals too long that have meant special programing in some schools. Mr. Williams said all schools should have the opportunity to afford the Suzuki program.

        Because schools make their own budgets, he said distributing the money equally allows each school to decide if it wants the program.

        Suzuki advocates don't see it that way.

        “This will give $3 per student in the district,” said Francoise Pierredon, a Suzuki piano teacher at Winton Montessori. “Some schools are not going to be able to afford it at all.”

        She said some schools that have a budget crisis one year may choose to get rid of the program.

        Mayoral candidate Courtis Fuller, a former Suzuki student, also spoke on behalf of the program.

        Mr. Williams said the proposal is not final. The board is expected to see a new proposal for the school budgeting process by the end of the month.

       



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