Budget cuts: the arts department

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The arts department faces cuts to an already tight curriculum, and the cut of a 1.0 FTE teacher to half-time that has Fine Arts students speaking out. (Credit: Jake Adelman/WSPN)

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.

17 Comments

  • avatar Janet Armentano

    I want to set the record straight that I am not planning on leaving Wayland High School next year. I do appreciate the support that students and parents are giving me with the news that my job is being cut to a part-time position.

  • avatar bob, a parent

    this is a time for cuts at the administrative level, not at the teaching level. the superintendent is the highest-salaried town employee and, with the assistant superintendent, is supported by three full-time administrative assistants! yet he has recommended no salary or support fte changes for the administration in this draft budget. the priorities are upside down.

  • mr. rumrill is horrible, cut him

  • avatar studentt

    mrs. armentano works harder than any teacher i've met at the high school. 45 recommendations so far this year? the fine arts department isn't like the english department or the math department, where there are a bunch of teachers teaching the same curriculum. we have exactly two fine arts teachers teaching entirely different classes with entirely different skills.
    concerning the claims that art class is a class for people " to relax, express their emotions, learn about themselves…" alright, fine. but that's not all that an art class is. the people who take art are not just a bunch of hippies who need a release. while art class is therapeutic, it's a place where real work gets done. especially for students like me, who are finishing art portfolios, etc… and mrs. armentano is the primary teacher to come to for help with that. the year is only half over, and already she's been helping people get their work submitted the Scholastic art awards, either individual or portfolio works, she's been motivating and helping people complete and polish their AP Art portfolios (mr. rumrill is not certified for AP Art), she's been helping students get organized for Art All-States…
    it breaks my heart. and it makes me wonder, you know, what's going to happen to all those students who need to take those classes? what's going to happen to me?

  • I'm an art student in college, doing a speech project on school districts cutting art programs. This article popped up on my search page and it saddens me greatly. Seriously, what would have happened to ME if my high school had no art program? It's simply not far. Is your school making cuts on their sports teams? I bet they're not- so they should stay away from the fine arts. SAVE THE ARTS!

  • This is really sad. Having had both Rums and Armentano, I realize that both art teachers are so important to the Art experience at Wayland High School. I wonder what the art program will be like after i leave, One of the teachers is part time, the other is leaving in a year. What will we do?!

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