Is a Performing Arts High School Coming to Missoula?

by jhwygirl

Caught this yesterday in the Montana Standard. (I searched for it in the Missoulian, but apparently, it wasn’t news worthy.)

At a school board committee meeting on Monday, Jim Caron, founder of the Missoula Children’s Theater (MCT), proposed a performing arts high school that would be a partnership between the school district and MCT.

Students would live in a dorm and spend half a day with core curriculum and the other half of the day studying music, drama and dance.

Caron said that they are working on the idea and are “at least a year and a half out.” The kids would pay tuition, and he expects that they could have 5-600 students in just a few years. The first class of freshmen and sophomore performing arts students would number around 50, with tuition plus room and board estimated at $25,000 a year. That number would grow as staff and housing were able to absorb them.

The idea was well received by trustee Jim Sadler: “This is an absolutely fabulous idea. I’m blown away by the concept. Of all the towns in Montana, we’re the only one that would be even close to considering it. There are a lot of things that have to be accommodated, but nothing that’s insurmountable.”

  1. petetalbot

    This story was in the Missoulian but probably inaccessible through the online archives.

    I’ve had the same issue a couple times lately. I just can’t find recent dead tree versions of Missoulian stories anywhere in the paper’s online editions.

  2. I was searching for it Thursday night (using “performing” for the search) and couldn’t find anything. This post was actually written Thursday night.


    Maybe they don’t archive right away or something?

    Pete – have you used the “advanced search”? That’s for stories older than 2 weeks.

  3. petetalbot

    Oh yeah, jhwygirl, I’ve used the advanced search with a modicum of success. And I wonder, as do you, how long it takes the Missoulian to get its print stories online. It would seem like a keystroke or two would be all it takes but often stories don’t show up online until at least a day after they’ve appeared in the hard copy version. I’m also guessing the Missoulian doesn’t file its stories online using very good or very many categories.

  4. You’ve got to use that search using keywords, though – not categories. They don’t use categories at all.

    I always try and pick out the most unique word to the story, so that the results are as narrow as possible.

  5. You know Pete – the Missoulian has (or used to) and online subscription for those that get the paper delivery. The way it works – if they are still doing it – is that you pay for the full paper delivery, donate the paper deliver to something (I don’t know what), and then have full access online.

    I’d be willing to pay for an online version – because there is no reason, for me, to have the paper, and because it’s more convenient and portable, save a tree, etc.

    But I don’t think I should have to pay what I’d pay for paper. That seems kinda ridiculous. No ink, no paper.

    The Chronicle does something like that, although I don’t like how much they’ve limited if you don’t have a subscription – for example, you can’t get the archives. That’s bad business, IMO.

    But going back to the subscription thing, I’d happily pay, say $5 a month for full access – that day access to letters to the editor, all editorials, all local news. Perhaps even some ‘online offers’ for some advertisers would be nice too. That way they’d know how well the online thing works.

    I don’t think I’d pay more than that – I read the papers across the state and plenty of other papers write up Missoula stuff, I’ve caught it before, so it isn’t a big deal for me – but $5 is better than no subscription at all? yes?

  6. petetalbot

    The online, paid subscription version of the Missoulian is probably the way to go, jhwygirl — convenience, gas costs for my delivery guy, save a tree, etc.

    But I’m an old dog and habits die hard. Something about that first cup of Joe in the morning and the paper in front of me. Maybe I’ll evolve, though.

    As for the Bozeman Chronicle, its online version sucks but then so does its hard copy version. There are a couple good reporters there but the editorial page (Libertarian “think tanks” anyone?) and its comics are the worst. It’s not for nothing that it’s referred to as the Bozeman “Comical.”

  7. Oh, yes, Pete – absolutely they should NOT eliminate the actual paper version. I, too, like a crisp fresh paper every once in a while – especially sundays. But I know I’d add more revenue to their coffers if they added an ‘online only’ subscription.

    And maybe that’d helped keep Lee with a Washington DC bureau.

    The Chronicle online version, yep, is worthless.

  8. goof houlihan

    Not to change the subject or anything, but it would be interesting to see how a public school would be selective in its attendees. Can “you have to be theatrically talented” be defended like “attendance boundaries”? Or would it be strictly “first come, first served” parents’ campout?

  9. JC

    A public school couldn’t be selective in its attendees. Missoula County doesn’t have admissions boundaries. You can go to any school in the county you choose.

    I don’t think that there would be a huge demand for local parents to send their kids to the school with a $6,000/year tuition, so a first-come first-served scenario isn’t likely.

    While the article seemed to reflect interest on the school board’s part, I see one big problem. And that is, if it is to be a true public/private partnership, how local taxpayers will feel about paying the public part of out-of-state or out-of-county student expenses. Maybe the state and county of residence (in Montana) could shift the their share of student support to the MCT school, but that would probably need a legislative change, and would be met with stiff resistance.

    The only other semi-equitable approach would be for the student, in addition to the $6,000 tuition for the private part, would have to pay a non-resident fee (similar to out of state college students) for the public part. State funding for state residents’ kids shouldn’t be a big problem. But county support for out-of-county Montana students is likely to be a stickler–particularly if the school were to reach 500+ students, as the supporters suggest. I’ll have to ask some clients who operate a private school with a public component how they get around these problems on a small scale.

    The more I think about it, the more it looks like MCT is looking for a way to get public support for what should really be a private school. Taking the right-wing voucher system, and applying it to a charter or magnet school idea. I could be wrong about this.

  10. goof houlihan

    Uncle Miltie wasn’t that “right wing” and he certainly had no religious axe to grind. He just wanted to break the constant spiral into mediocrity and below that public schools have been in, since, well, I went to school.

    I’m all for having parents picking their school, public, or Public-private, or private, and science, thespian, mathmatical, sports, or whatever the product that parents would choose.

    No wonder this thread stayed on newspapers and didn’t get into the implications of such a proposal. Imagine parents and kids having a choice! That would be…terrible, right?

  11. JC

    There’s plenty of choices already. In Missoula, we have public schools, quite a few private schools, an international school, an alternative learning center, religious schools, home-schooled. I don’t think anybody here is against a performing arts school–in concept, or a multiplicity of choices.

    But the issue that arises, as embodied by voucher debate, is whether or not it is appropriate for public dollars to subsidize a private school, or how a public/private school like the one MCT proposes should be structured.

    What do people here think about MCT’s proposal and funding, in light of potentially up to 500 students attending it–many from out of county or out of state? How can it equitably be funded, from the public side?

  12. That’s a big price tag for a performing arts high school. It may be true that, as MCT founder Jim Caron told the Standard: “We know moms and dads in Cut Bank or Laramie will send their kids to us.” But I wonder how many people in Laramie could afford $25,000 a year to send their 16-year-olds away to school. That’s more than the annual cost for a good university in the Rocky Mountain West. Missoula Children’s Theatre has traveled all over Wyoming, and the MCT staffers are fantastic perfomers and teachers. But they may want to give this project a little more thought.

  13. Libby

    I wish that I would have seen this post sooner, and I hope that Mike, Pete and JC get a chance to see it. There was a lot of confusion about the Performing Arts High School that stemmed from misinformation published in the Missoulian. This information was then posted in a correction in the paper. MCT is working closely with the school district to enroll the Performing Arts High School students for their core classes at Hellgate High School as stated in the paper. However, MCT will be a completely separate Accredited organization. The students will take about four classes at MCT each year that will be transferred to Hellgate and appear on the student’s transcript. In addition, they will have voice training and stage productions outside of their school day. The student will graduate from Hellgate. Having the students enrolled and taking classes at Hellgate will increase the High School enrolment. The $6000 that was stated as tuition at one point was misrepresented. This is the amount of money that Hellgate will get for each student that is enrolled in their school. That money is not allocated for MCT in any way. The MCT classes will be funded by a private tuition that each student will pay to attend the Boarding High School. The tuition will, in fact, be closer to $20,000. I strongly encourage anyone whith questions to call or email a staff member at MCT.

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