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Perpich Opts Out of the Debate Over Funding for Arts School

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Minnesota's proposed high school for the artistically talented is struggling for legislative backing this year without the active support of Gov. Rudy Perpich, a long-time champion of the project.

Members of Mr. Perpich's staff say he has not lost his enthusiasm for the proposed Minnesota School and Resource Center for the Arts. Rather, they say, the Governor has backed away from the debate over funding for the school because he feels support for the project would be more solid if the legislature votes to finance it without his exertions.

The arts school is scheduled to open this fall with an enrollment of 135 juniors. Ten teachers would provide instruction in music, dance, drama, writing, and visual and media arts, as well as in traditional academic subjects.

James F. Undercofler, the school's executive director, predicted last week that the Senate would approve funding for the facility but that the House would not. That standoff would force the chambers to resolve the issue in a conference committee.

Mr. Undercofler said Governor Perpich's budget for the upcoming biennium included $7 million for the school, but omitted $5 million for pay for staff members.

In the past, Mr. Undercofler said, legislators have held the school ''hostage," denying it funding in an attempt to coax Mr. Perpich to support their pet interests.--ps

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