Window on the West
by Mary Rupert
I figure I can put in my 2-cents worth of comments, literally, on the grand piano controversy over a piano expenditure at Sumner Academy.
I figure that’s about how much it would cost me.
The piano, according to agenda documents, is costing around $48,000. The expenditure was seized upon this week by people who are trying to argue that the public schools are spending too much.
As someone who lives in Kansas City, Kan., I estimated that if every resident of the city chipped in about 32 cents, they could buy a grand piano for the students. But, if a lot of people can’t afford to chip in that much, and only one-third can afford to chip in, that takes the cost to almost $1 per person.
A grand piano might last from 40 to 50 years, and it won’t need to be replaced soon. So, I figure that the yearly cost to me over this period of time would be about 2 cents. I realize that they’re buying it all at one time, but the 2 cents estimate is correct, I believe, because when I compare it with other school expenses, they often will occur again every year. My math may not be exactly right, but it is likely the cost would come out to less than $1 per person, and that’s the cost of one soft drink, a one-time expense, at some restaurants. I can afford that.
It’s my opinion that more funding is spent on the “popular” sports than on some other activities in the schools. Recently, the school district decided to build a new football field for Schlagle High School, a large expense. Schlagle currently doesn’t have its own stadium and plays its games at other schools’ fields. I did not hear any loud criticism in the community of this football expenditure, and I personally am not against it.
Like football, piano is a state-level competition at the Kansas State High School Activities Association. There are students who compete and may bring home the state trophy in this activity.
Some schools nowadays are spending a lot of money on computers and other high-tech gadgets, but I’m not hearing a lot of criticism about it. Equipment for various educational programs here is sometimes expensive. At the vocational educational level, now under the community college level, there are equipment costs for program such as welding and auto repair that can be expensive.
Music and art have long been viewed as “extracurricular activities” by some people, but I believe they are just as important as any other subject in school. There are students who make careers in these fields, and they are just as important as any other fields. Having the right equipment for training could make a difference in whether a student is hired for a position in the field after their school years end.
Why use tax dollars on these items? The power of helping each other increases greatly when more people pitch in to help. If one person were to try to give a grand piano to the school, it would be very difficult, but if an entire city does this, it would be easy. It would be about 2 cents.
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