Letter: Clarification of misconceptions relating to the proposed Charter School of the Arts

The following letter to the editor was submitted in response to Cheektowaga Chronicle’s article about Tuesday’s public hearing about Charter School for the Arts.  The viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions or viewpoints of Crabapple Media, LLC and Cheektowaga Chronicle.

I would like to clarify some misconceptions relating to the proposed Charter School of the Arts. There is a misconception that the establishment of the Charter School of the Arts would cause 25+ teachers to be cut, a raise in taxes greatly, the eliminations of already existing arts programs at Cheektowaga Central, arts classes will only be taught by uncertified teachers, and art classes will not be taught during the regular school day.

The reality is, that if the school district is fulfilling all of the educational wants and needs, of all of the students and their families in the school district, no students from the Cheektowaga Central school district will enroll in the Charter School of the Arts. If no students from the school district enroll in the charter school the district will have no costs relating to the charter school locating in the school district. There would be no tax increases, program cuts, or job losses relating to the charter school. There would also be no financial impact on the school district at all. Charter schools only get state funding for students that they enroll, they receive no local tax dollars.

Also, the misconception that the Charter School of the Arts will not be offering the visual and performing arts classes during the school day, and will be taught by uncertified and unexperienced teachers. This is actually not correct. Our school will start at kindergarten and will offer various arts classes to include classes in various dance forms (which is one of the most desired art forms, which are not offered by Cheektowaga Central). Arts classes will be taught 5 days a week, 2 to 4 times per day starting in kindergarten.

Our arts classes will be taught by both certified teachers and contracted professional artists which have 20 years or more of experience running arts schools, teaching, and performing their art locally, nationally, and internationally. The contracted teachers have also taught at public schools, and universities.

Our arts classes will be taught throughout the day, along with a rigorous academic program and during the extended day in the afternoon.  Although some may not feel that the absence of a free, extensive dance program is unimportant, we believe it is just as important as music. There are many students that would like the same opportunity for the training, experience, exposure, and opportunities to pursue the many dance forms that will prepare them for college, and/or a professional career.

Again, if there is no need or desire for our programming, we will receive no student enrollment from the Cheektowaga Central school district, and we would have no financial impact on the school district.

Shirley Wagstaff, The Charter School of the Arts

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