Grand Prairie reinvents grade school as fine arts academy

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on June 4, 2011 at 6:06 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 4 at 10:30 PM

GRAND PRAIRIE — As school districts get creative on cutbacks, Grand Prairie ISD decided to capitalize on arts and music education while others eliminate those subjects.

The district is also reinventing Garner Elementary, its smallest campus, into a Fine Arts Academy.

The same faculty will undergo additional training, said Teri Wilson, Grand Prairie ISD spokeswoman, and this school will now accept new students from outside the city.

"It's a unique opportunity," said Jason Martin, father of a six-year-old student. "They're trying to compete with private schools."

Until recently, Garner's future was uncertain.

As enrollment declined, Grand Prairie considered closing the campus in February to save $1.5 million.

"Don't they understand that these are our children?" asked Danika Leek, the mother of a kindergarten student,  when she learned about the proposal in February. "They are our future."

Grand Prairie heard the parents' protest.

That's when the district decided to reinvent this campus and have it specialize in the arts and music.

"It's an opportunity for a little higher education than a typical public school is offering," Martin said.

He and other parents responded Saturday by camping out overnight to ensure their children get in.

The district said it enrolled 95 new students this weekend to join those already at the school. Twenty children came from outside the district.

Grand Prairie hasn't laid off any of its arts or music teachers, Wilson added.

E-mail  jwhitely@wfaa.com

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