The Edgewood Independent School District will start the new school year without a fine arts coordinator.
The decision is drawing criticism from Jeremy Brimhall, the director of education at the San Antonio Symphony.
“Of the many school districts that we partner with, the ones that have a fine arts coordinator or a fine arts director are the ones that we see that have more robust opportunities for students,” Brimhall said.
The district has reassigned the former coordinator, Emma Dromgoole, to an assistant principal position to help launch a fine arts elementary school.
The fine arts school will be part of an “innovation zone” the district plans to roll out over the next few years.
“As part of that zone, we needed that support at the elementary school level,” said Edgewood spokeswoman Keyhla Calderon-Lugo. “We’re still going to turn to that individual for help and support with any other additional questions that may come up throughout the year, so (Dromgoole) is still a very valuable resource to us as we develop the innovation zone.”
Calderon said the fine arts coordinator position was not being eliminated, but she couldn’t say whether someone would be hired to fill the role during the 2019-2020 school year.
For the time being, Calderon said the district’s director of curriculum and instruction will take on the coordinator’s duties.
“A lot of the work is really logistics regarding the scheduling of events, and the individual that we have in place is more than capable to do that work,” Calderon said.
But Brimhall said he’s concerned Edgewood students will have less access to fine arts without someone in the central office solely dedicated to the arts. He met with Edgewood Superintendent Eduardo Hernandez last week to express those concerns, and said he left the meeting with as many reservations as he had when he walked in.
“I didn’t really understand what the reasoning behind the dissolution of the fine arts coordinator position was or how it was related to the establishment of the innovation zones,” Brimhall said. “Why not continue to have a fine arts coordinator position even through the transition when it might be even more needed as you make these changes?”
Pointing out that the athletic department has four administrative positions at the district’s central office, Brimhall said he felt it was unfair for fine arts to have none.
“There’s so much to be gained out of the fine arts in terms of life enrichment and academic benefits, so it’s sad to see that it’s under supported and then, even beyond under supported, that the support for it is being taken away in this case,” Brimhall said.
Calderon said Edgewood will hire more fine arts staff over the next few years as it launches its fine arts innovation zone.
“This is part of our commitment to our students to have this innovation zone but also to continue to offer the fine arts programs at all of our campuses,” Calderon said.
Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille