Madeline Bennett, a homeschooled high school student in Mineral County, knows the benefits of music. When she heard that the music program at MCHS was being cancelled, she didn’t sit back and complain – she started a petition.
Supported by her parents, James and Deborah and many youth in the community, she went forth with a petition to get music and arts programs back into the schools of Mineral County.
In her letter to state and federal officials, she explains her fight.
“Please help our children! Due to what is being explained to us is a “mistake or misunderstanding” on the parts of the Nevada Tax Commission and possibly other government departments our county has lost over half a million dollars in funding. This translates into roughly a $470,000 loss to our county school budget for this coming school year and another $500,000 to $600,000 loss next year,” the letter reads.
Bennett goes on to explain that the result has cancelled the music department at Mineral County schools.
“Over 20 percent of our student population is involved in our music department. From our little ones learning to sing “Yankee Doodle” in elementary music class to our high school band and choir participating in Festival with other larger Northern Nevada School bands and choirs; our children are there and wanting to be a part of something they cannot have in any other form in our small community,” the letter continues.
“We have multiple children that are hoping desperately to get a teacher from another school to represent them in this year’s honors choir and band programs as they will no longer be able to participate without representation. One young gentleman was introduced to the piano less than a year ago and with no professional training (as his family along with most of us, cannot afford it) was going up before the solo and ensemble competition in Fernley. One young lady was diagnosed with spinal and brain tumors and less than two months after her surgeries was back on a limited basis to school. In which class? Choir. One young lady has been ranked the second best soprano in Northern Nevada in the Honor Choir Competition, as a freshman, and intends to continue her career in music. But without a music department, who can they turn to?”
Bennett along with her parents and other students gathered 842 signatures, as of Monday morning, to their petition. These youth understand the reason for the shortfall and explain such in the letter: “It has been explained to us that the shortfall in our budget was due to expected funds being cancelled in reaction to a huge increase in our counties value after an assessment was done centrally by the state. A large geothermal project ran by a company called ORMAT has begun in our county and due to a “legal loop-hole” they are exempt so none of the money is being contributed to Mineral County but we are being assessed the extra value of $11,000,000. This assessment is from the state. Not from our local assessor’s office.”
In order to reopen the music department, Bennett was told by the school superintendent that he would need $72,000 in order to fill the position.
The Bennett’s ask that those in state and federal position which represent Mineral County and Nevada to turn their attention toward our county and get the mistake rectified to help the children.
“But time is running out and the immediate losers are our children, the long term losers are us as we lose the attention of these potentially amazing children and what they will contribute to our and your future,” the letter states.