Del Olmo principal Eugene Hernandez said LAUSD's after-school music program is daycare for working parents, and a safe haven for students prone to gang recruitment. But the district has put the program on the chopping block thanks to budget cuts. Ted Chen reports.
Children involved in an after-school music program in the Los Angeles Unified School District may soon be singing a sad song because the program is on the chopping block when the L.A. School Board meets Tuesday.
The Beyond the Bell program has served more than 170,000 students in the district, but the financially-strapped LAUSD is proposing to eliminate it.
The program has included music lessons as well as school sports and people involved it in claimed that it put children on the path toward a positive future.
"Music itself is something that allows a kid to grow imagination," said William Glenn, a music teacher at Frank Del Olmo Elementary School in Koreatown, where a third of the students take part in the program. "These things that we as adults often forget, we’re able to instill in kids early."
Creativity was not the only result supporters of the program touted.
The after school program is an early intervention that helps prevent children from becoming gang members, according to Eugene Hernandez, Del Olmo principal.
He said he was afraid of the repercussions if the program, which also serves as a daycare for working parents, was lost.
"A lot of these kids would go back to empty apartments. They would go back to watching television instead of doing homework. They would probably join gangs. They would probably roam the neighborhoods," Hernandez said. "Having a place where they feel safe, that’s not going to be in existence anymore."
Program advocates plan to protest at the Tuesday board meeting.