Weekly Update

Millennium-Charter-High-School-300x187MILLENNIUM HIGH SCHOOL IN CRISIS

JUST BEFORE ITS FIRST GRADUATING SENIOR CLASS commences this spring, the board of the Millennium Charter High School in Salinas has put its popular founding principal, Peter Gray, on paid administrative leave. The community served—some 200 students and their families—are outraged at this action, and further enflamed because the independent board is self-electing, California law shields personnel matters from public view and there is no mechanism by which the board’s decisions can be appealed. While the local media have covered the board’s move and the reaction to it they have so far failed to penetrate into what is shaping up as life-threatening to the five-year-old charter school.

The only information to have leaked out—so far independently unsubstantiated—is the board’s suspicions about Gray’s hiring practices and a memo from Gray citing ‘irregularities.’

Millennium, which shares the campus of the Monterey County Office of Education, and has regular access to the otherwise under-utilized Sherwood Hall auditorium at the Salinas Community Center, came into focus largely as the vision of Hamish Tyler, a long-time arts education advocate in public and private schools and now director of MCOE’s Media Center for Arts, Education and Technology (MCAET) whose state-of-the-art technology is fully available to Millennium’s students.

Meanwhile, seeing potential conflicts with other public school districts, Superintendent Nancy Kotowski went to great lengths to vet the establishment of the new charter high school. Millennium’s website contains a pie chart that shows the many public schools Millennium’s students would otherwise attend. Those other districts offered their support, at least tacitly. By further implication, Millennium could also attract students from area private high schools, of which there are many that offer quality arts education with long, successful histories. Predictably, they would also be unhappy if Millennium recruited their most creative talent. Bottom line is the best schools are in competition, especially if, like Millennium, they define themselves as college-preparatory.

The Monterey County Board of Education is now in the spotlight thanks to the Millennium crisis. The ousted Gray was also a teacher whose classes have suddenly been interrupted in mid- semester throwing the future of those affected students into disarray. Whatever turns out to be the underlying dysfunction between Gray and the Millennium board, the school’s students, directly and indirectly, will suffer negative consequences over which they have no control.

METROPOLITAN OPERA CONDUCTOR’S fabio-luisi-the-mets-new-perfume-makerPERFUMES

PRINCIPAL CONDUCTOR Fabio Luisi’s nose must be as sensitive as his ears. But does he make an attar that would flatter La Dame aux Camélias? Click HERE

GOD IS WATCHING YOU

AUTHOR DOMINIC JOHNSON’S new book asserts belief in divine punishment may be a useful evolutionary adaptation. Read the Economist’s review HERE

NEW S.T.A.R. GRANTS ANNOUNCED

‘SUPPORT-THE-ARTS-REGIONALLY’ distributes nearly $58k. Youth-oriented recipients include Dance Kids, HARA Motion Pictures, Hartnell Drama, Monterey County Dance Foundation, Monterey Peninsula Community Theatre Company, Orchestra in the Schools, Palma High School Band, Stage Hands South County, Stage Kids Big Sur, Trinity Christian High School and Youth Orchestra Salinas. Deadline for next grant application is May 10, 2016. For details, click HERE

COPIOUS CLASSICAL COMING UP

CHAMBER MUSIC from New York and Van Cliburn medalist Sean Chen in Carmel; Valentines in Aptos and Corral de Tierra, Monterey and Carmel. Check our CALENDAR

juan sanchezPERFORMING ARTS PEOPLE

JUAN L SÁNCHEZ composes, performs, educates, turns kids on to music, and builds bridges instead of walls. Click HERE

FRESH REVIEWS

PHILIP PEARCE had to steel his ears against a slew of four- and five-letter words that turn the air blue at PacRep’s Heathers, The Musical. Click HERE

ROGER EMANUELS suited up for SC Baroque’s lift-off into its stellar 34th season. Click HERE

Scott MacClelland, editor