Play it again | Arkansas Blog

Play it again

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The state Education Department provides background on the $100,000 in emergency money Gov. Mike Huckabee dished out to Play It Again Arkansas in the final hours in office. I still think it's a worthy program to put musical instruments in the hands of kids who can't afford them. I still think this wasn't an emergency. But I think this answer does put to rest most questions about the particulars. The program is based in the Education Department. Its head, John Caldwell, is a former band director and seven-year state employee, the department says. Full details on the spending in the answer on the jump from the department's Julie Thompson. It would have been so much easier if the Huckabee administration had answered questions this way, or even bothered to announce these things when they occurred.

RESPONSE FROM EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ON EMERGENCY GRANT

Here's what I know about Play It Again Arkansas and the $100,000.
 
The program was started in the Governor's Office by Huckabee in 1998 and placed in the Department of Education.
 
John Caldwell has filled the role of directing the program since July 2000. His salary is paid by ADE but he raises funds to pay for the rest of the program, which, as you know, involves receiving donated instruments, paying to have them restored and giving them to school districts that have students who cannot affort their own instruments.
 
In early December, Mr. Caldwell sent an application to the governor's office outlining needs of the program.
 
   * $57,000 was to be used for restoring and distributing instruments and for a new part of the program, which is to purchase instruments when a need arises but there is no donated instrument available to fill it.
    * $25,000 for a new music  teacher inservice program targeted to those districts with the greatest need for such programs.
   * $8,000 to compile a series of CDs of historically significant public school performances that are now recorded on reel-to-reel tapes or vinyl records
   *  $10,000 for the Governor's Award for Musical Excellence -- a program now in its sixth year that recognizes outstanding students in any area of music performance by presenting them with a signed certificate from the governor and a medallion to wear at graduation. One student per high school is eligible to receive the award.
 
    After the presentation, Mr. Caldwell took the check to our finance office and it was deposited into two separate ADE funds -- $90,000 into Play It Again Arkansas and $10,000 into the Governor's Award for Musical Excellence fund.
 
On January 3, Mr. Caldwell was invited to the Governor's Conference Room at the Capitol and was presented a check for $100,000 along with an official proclamation.
 

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