Recently, the Rochester City School District has felt the weight of a budget crisis bearing down.

However, Rochester is not the only school district that is facing budget cuts. The “Big Five” in New York ? Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Yonkers and New York City ? were all hit heavily this year. Rochester has the distinction of being the slowest city in terms of figuring out how to deal with the cutbacks.

The Rochester City Schools were left with a $23.8 million deficit after Jan. 25, when the first round of lay-offs and other cuts went into effect.

Superintendent Clifford Janey believes that in dealing with a crisis like this, “deliberate and strategic thinking” are required as well as action. At the present time, Janey has promised that none of the cuts will affect the funding that is directed towards the arts.

Many people are still wondering whether or not he will stick to his word. When other school districts were in a bind such as this, they immediately slashed funding for the arts. They justified their actions with statements that core subjects ? math, social studies, English and sciences ? are more important.

With these decisions, many young students lose the opportunity to enrich their lives and to gain knowledge about important pieces of history that are all too often left out of a social studies class.

When was the last time you remember your middle school or high school history teacher talking about Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schnberg, Webern or Ives? I never heard those names mentioned in any of my “core” subjects. The only time these names were mentioned was in my choir rehearsal, my music theory classes, my voice class, my wind ensemble rehearsal and many other musical experiences that I was able to have

because my school had the funding.

Without the musicians I mentioned above, history would have been incredibly different. Music and the arts constantly affect our lives. Think about the last time you listened to music, whether it was by conscious decision or not ? music works its way into our lives without our even realizing it.

Think of the numerous jingles that we hear in commercials or at the intro to a TV program, differentiating one channel from another. Even simpler things like the entertainment that we are provided with during an elevator ride or a long stay in a waiting room are taken for granted every day.

Clifford Janey seems to understand that the arts are essential to a well-rounded education. However, when I see that the budget for the arts decreased by almost $200,000 from the previous year while the sports budget increased from $1.3 million last year to $1.4 million this year, I have to wonder.

Are the arts as important to the city school district as they would lead us to believe?

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