Like parents refusing a silly child that extra cookie, the Harford County Board of Education snubbed art education enthusiasts Monday -- kindly, but firmly.
The art education supporters, who included parents and teachers, made a presentation at the board meeting Monday to press for more art instructors in public elementary schools. They argued money to expand art education in Harford schools must be found.
But the school board insisted extra money for art education isn't available.
"It's not a question of commitment. It's a question of dollars," board member George Lisby told the art education supporters at the meeting. "The dollars are going to have to be used in a frugal manner."
About a dozen parents and art teachers who converged on the board meeting -- armed with petitions with about 3,100 signatures asking for more art instruction -- said they already knew that the education budget is tight.
"I would like the children of Harford County to know that Michelangelo was not just a Ninja Turtle," said one art teacher angrily, referring to one of the names of the hero turtles in the hit movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Marcia Gayle Snee, a parent speaking for the Ad Hoc Committee on Elementary Art Education, said the committee reviewed options and concluded that one art teacher for every 25 classes by 1994 is the only viable solution. The committee didn't say how much it would cost to accomplish its objective.
Harford now has four certified art teachers in four of the county's 26 elementary schools.
"There are no alternatives to the full implementation of this . . .
curriculum by certified art instructors. The various enrichment programs .
. . may continue to be established only to enhance the existing art program, not to supplant it," Snee read from the committee's report.
Several board members raised their eyebrows over that, questioning the committee's recommendation and demanding to know why creative alternatives to avoid hiring new teachers weren't suggested.
School board president Richard C. Molinaro wanted to know why art teachers couldn't be rotated from school to school.
Madeline Trionfo, an art teacher at William S. James Elementary School, said a full art education program has the backing of parents and children, as well as teachers and administrators at county schools.
"My concern is, who are the board members serving if these large numbers are pressing for art education in elementary schools? We have overwhelming numbers pressing for this issue," said Trionfo.