Parents Upset by Tierrasanta School Cutting Music Program, School Says Arts Must Be Spread Around

Some parents are upset after a Tierrasanta school pulled a music program from their fourth graders.

Kumeyaay Elementary School previously had a visual and performing arts (VAPA) music program for its fourth and fifth graders, but this year the younger kids were given something different.

“I was really surprised to see that my daughter’s experience is she doesn’t get to play an instrument in fourth grade,” said Sherry Schnell, a parent of one the affected students.

Schnell said she didn’t know about the cut program until after the first week of school. So, she decided to ask the district for an explanation.

“And what they said was they had worked with principals and VAPA departments, and they had limited resources so they were no longer able to provide it,” Schell told NBC 7.

The school had the same amount of funding as last year, but the allocation changed, according to the San Diego Unified School District’s Director of VAPA Department Russ Sperling.

Some schools were funded for fourth grade music, while others wanted to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, Sperling said.

“Right now, the district isn’t providing STEM, and they’re not providing fourth grade music, so I’m not seeing what that tradeoff is happening,” Schnell said.

Sperling’s response was that the school district was fighting for equity.

“The VAPA funding is geographically even, I should say,” Sperling said. “It is not equal, but it is equitable in its spread.”

The following schools had their fourth grade music program cut or reduced: Alice Birney, Carson, Edison, Golden Hill, Green, Kumeyaay, Lindberg-Schweitzer, Ross, and William Penn, according to the school district.

While these schools saw an increase in their music programming for forth graders: Audubon, Baker, Clay, Ellen Browning Scripps, Encanto, Kate Sessions, Marie Curie, Mason, Rolando Park, Tierrasanta, and Vista Grande, according to the school district.

Tierrasanta Elementary is roughly one mile away from Kumeyaay Elementary.

Sperling said parents have the choice to move from their neighborhood school. He also noted that magnet programs are available to help students find out what they’re really passionate about.

Scheduling issues and facilities may also affect how VAPA funds are distrusted, the district said.

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