Don’t cut MISA

Can someone please unplug the machine that is playing that same broken record we’ve been hearing for years?

After the approval of funds to go ahead with the music instructional space and auditorium (MISA) project at Greenwich High School, we were delighted that we’d never have to write about it again. But here we are, days away from the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) budget vote and it looks like certain detractors will again be calling for cutting the funding for the popular and overdue project.

At next Monday’s meeting, some members of the RTM are expected to claim that the need to remediate toxic soil at GHS means that projects like MISA either have to be reduced or cut.

 

To do this would be a huge mistake, and we don’t think the RTM is about to make such an error. But just in case there is a growing movement to do something foolish, we wish to remind all RTM members that not only is MISA a commitment to GHS and its students, but it is a project for the long term that will make the school the crown jewel we all consider it to be. The community wants this, and shouldn’t be overruled by a vocal minority on the RTM.

Ultimately this is about priorities. That doesn’t mean prioritizing MISA over other capital projects in town. It means prioritizing education in Greenwich. At its core, MISA is about being able to give our high school students the chance to make the most of their education at GHS.

Some students do not always achieve their highest in the classroom or on the field. For some, their talents lie in music or theater. Arts education is something that we continue to take for granted in this country as something that’s always just “there” and doesn’t need to be a priority. For without the arts, what is left of society?

The late American arts critic Bernard Berenson said, “All of the arts, poetry, music, ritual, the visible arts, the theater, must singly and together create the most comprehensive art of all, a humanized society, and its masterpiece, free man.”

The people who initially got behind this project have long since seen their kids graduate from GHS, but they recognize how vital this project will be to the students in future generations. Think of all the students whose talents will be brought to life because GHS finally has not only an auditorium that meets basic needs but will have adequate classroom space to handle the demand for music programs. Think of all the students who might otherwise fall through the cracks but instead will have the chance to excel and go onto new opportunities in college and beyond thanks to what GHS will be able to offer them.

While it’s never a good idea to spend foolishly and without an eye on the long term, the fact remains Greenwich has the ability to fund MISA. It has always had the ability to fund MISA. To cut it now would defy logic. Yes, there is a big expense coming thanks to the field remediation and, yes, the town is going to have to be responsible with our tax dollars because of it, but it would be the height of irresponsibility to pull the plug on MISA when we should be making the education of future generations in this town one of the highest priorities.

The fact is, Greenwich has twice gone the cheaper route when it comes to GHS’s auditorium. To do it a third time would be a slap in the face to the residents and would cost us more in the long run. We believe the RTM will not do this on Monday and we hope its members prove us right.

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