Budget cuts: the arts department
January 3, 2010
The proposed budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2011 would reduce one teaching position in the arts department from full time to 0.6 full-time teaching equivalent (FTE), essentially half-time. This suggestion has caused a loud and active community response, with many students outraged that there could be fewer art classes in an already tight curriculum.
Wayland offers approximately ten Art courses, including Theory, Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Advanced Ceramics, and Metal Works. Art 1, 2, 3, and 4, the mainstays of the program, all have multiple classes. The Wayland High School Program of Studies states all of these art courses have limited enrollment.
Students argue that because of the cut in teaching time, they will experience a dramatic loss in arts education. “The art department won’t be complete without [Ms. Armentano], she is a great teacher,” said senior Ginger Liau.
Students have taken a number of measures in an attempt to change the proposed budget cut, including creating a group on Facebook, writing a petition, and sending personal letters to the high school administration.
The student group on Facebook explains, “[Ms. Armentano’s] class is a sanctuary to her students.”
Many students agreed that art classes are a time to relax, express their emotions, and learn about themselves. “I feel like Ms. Armentano has supported me completely throughout my art career,” explained senior Jillian Zieff, “I really can’t imagine the art department without her.”
“I think one of the major advantages of having these two teachers is that they are different in their teaching styles,” said Susan Cunningham. “If someone doesn’t like a particular way then they can go to the other art teacher.”
Senior Teresa McCarthy, who has taken an art class all four years of her high school career, feels that art programs are always targeted first. “I just think it is really sad,” said McCarthy. “It’s always going to be the art, when really that is what some students need the most.”
However, other students argue that art, as an extracurricular, should be considered for cuts before core academic classes. “The budget cuts are bad, but we have a shortage of money [and] it has to be done,” said junior Taylor Dieffenbach. “I think non-academic classes and activities should be cut first.”
Fine arts department chair Susan Memoli and other art teachers chose not to comment on the proposed cuts.