Some Discord Over School Festivals

Posted: October 05, 1994

Following a meeting with the School District's deputy superintendent, three of the seven district region offices have agreed to hold music festivals this year.

But there's no word on what the remaining four will do.

The region music festivals faced an uncertain future this year after the district's central office, which had coordinated the event, shifted responsibility to each region office. Some 12,000 to 15,000 students participate in the festivals each year.

After a meeting last week, the Northeast, Northwest and high school region offices have committed to holding the festivals, said Deputy Superintendent Jeanette Brewer. The others have been asked to make a decision by Oct. 21, she said, noting that the concerns among the holdout regions were funding and staffing for the event.

"They do want (the children) to have them," Brewer said Monday. Some regions "are taking the dollars required from their budgets. . . . Other regions have asked if we would help."

The annual festivals feature the district's best and brightest student musicians, who perform in their respective regions.

The festivals have been a 44-year tradition in Philadelphia coordinated by the School District's central office. But officials said budget cuts this year made it impossible for the central office to run the festivals.

The central office has only two administrators in the music education department for the entire district, Brewer said.

The region offices now have the option of having the festivals.

Last week, staff at those offices apparently were unaware of their new responsibility. And word got out that the festivals had been canceled, spurring parents, students and teachers to protest at a school board meeting last week.

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