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A Simple Thank You


I breathed a hesitant sigh of relief a week ago when the school board announced its plans for budget cuts. Face it, the task was so daunting that NO decision they made would make everyone happy or protect all of the programs that impact the quality of education for kids. However, despite some stipend cuts that will have an impact on our secondary music programs, the majority of our arts education programs remained intact...for this round, at least. We all know the importance of reading, writing and 'rithmetic, but how many of us know that the state of Kansas considers fine arts important enough to require arts education for graduation? Education should not only be about teaching kids to make a living, but education should also teach kids how to make a life. Unfortunately, the fine arts have historically been the first to go in school districts across the country when budgets get squeezed too tightly. It's like the young Thespian/football player said at the International Thespian Festival two summers ago when asked why he chose to do theatre instead of football -- he said "I realized I'm not going to change anyone's life by running a ball down the field." We can't live without the arts, and a solid educational experience in the arts makes for better citizens, better workers, better community. So thank you, USD 497 BOE, for doing what you can to uphold the idea that arts are essential, not extra.
Let's work to encourage our state legislature to support education so that the BOE doesn't have to make further cuts harmful to the quality of education for our kids.


Ronda Miller 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't think it's a problem of their not supporting education; it's a problem of finding money to do it all in an already overtaxed (so to speak) budget

I'm hoping we're having four day school weeks looked at. Many states are finding it saves big funds and test scores are going up.

I believe twenty school districts in Kansas are utilizing this at present

LisaGreenwood 8 years, 2 months ago

Four day school weeks cut costs for districts that spend a lot of money on transportation (i.e. rural districts), otherwise for a district like Lawrence the majority of savings comes from not paying your hourly employees since administrators and teachers are salaried. Economically, it may save the district money to move to a four day week, but in the big picture wouldn't it also do more damage to our local economy when more people have less money to spend?

If the state is willing to vote for taxes specifically to fix highways, but not to do the same to support education, we'll have a lot of nice roads that people will be taking to 'get out of Dodge'...and Lawrence, and Topeka, etc...

Hop2It 8 years, 2 months ago

A lot of lives have been changed "by running a ball down the field' or whatever activity keeps them engaged in school. It could be theater, art, debate, student government or it could be cross-country, bowling or basketball. Learning doesn't just take place in the classroom.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 2 months ago

I agree, Hop. Art isn't necessarily going to affect more lives than the football player who excells. There are lessons in everything

Lisa, think of the savings in gas and electricity. Being able to turn things off, or set lower, or higher in the case of electricity, adds up. If universities are discussing having staff work a day less a week, or a month, the same can be done with hourly or salaried staff. A job with less hours is still preferable to laying people off totally, wouldn't you agree?

This would keep it from being an all or nothing choice; it would keep schools from closing, etc.

Check out the facts, read some information. It's working well in many states.

LisaGreenwood 8 years, 2 months ago

Note that the student didn't say theatre had more impact on HIS life as a participant, but that his participation in theatre ultimately had more impact on the lives of others...my point being that the fine arts in education are important to our sense of humanity. Unfortunately, there is a historic trend of eliminating arts programs when budgets get squeezed while athletics programs remain -- we need a wide variety of experiences outside of the classroom to keep students involved in the classroom. We cannot educate 21st century citizens by simply focusing on the "3R's." Thankfully, the BOE recognizes the importance of arts in education.

According to National School Boards Association data, the districts in nine states with four day weeks are usually small, rural districts. From what I have read, four day school weeks in Kansas reap large savings to small districts from reduced transportation costs (which Lawrence has already cut significantly), food services (which the BOE voted to increase fees to cover), hourly wages (USD 497's budget is 85% tied up in teacher/administrator salaries, so cutting back on classifed staff hours wouldn't have as much of an overall impact as in other districts), and utilities. The BOE has said 'everything is on the table,' so I hope that they would consider any option, but I don't think we would see the same cost savings as the smaller rural districts are seeing because our budget resources are structured differently.

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