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The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

Meet the Staff
Nathan Friedman
Nathan Friedman

Nathan Friedman is a sophomore at Free State and it is his first year on staff as a photographer. He is also involved in swimming, theatre, and baseball. Outside of school, Nathan enjoys being outdoors,...

FEATURE: Budget Cuts Hit on Performing Arts

The effects of the lower arts budget on students and why it matters
Anders Benson
Awaiting regular maintenance, the auditorium stage piano sits in the alcove of the auditorium. The school owns one grand piano, and a few upright pianos, which like this one are often out of tune. “Sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got a little bit longer than you’d like to,” choir director Joshua East said.

Over the past few years, USD497 has made significant budget cuts to extracurriculars. Students from kindergartners to seniors have been affected by the district’s cuts, but previously underfunded programs, like the performing arts, are perhaps being hit the hardest.

Despite the low funding for these programs, they continue their success from past years. Choir Director Joshua East said that although the administration is supportive, the funding isn’t.

“The funding has sometimes not kept up with the needs of the students when it comes to the things that we want to accomplish,” East said.

The most noticeable cut in the budget has been staff reduction. Teachers’ positions, specifically in the performing arts programs, were cut. The teachers and their time are a large part of what makes the programs successful. When the budget doesn’t support this, it could slow the process for putting together shows as well as individual improvement.

“We try not to let it impact student achievement and student support,” East said. “But sometimes it’s not possible to do the same things with fewer hours of staff.”

Two years ago, Russell Clark, the assistant orchestra teacher, would split his day between the high schools, due to understaffing, before his position was cut altogether. This year, the responsibilities of teachers have begun to fall on the students due to the lack of employed staff. Orchestra Director Heather Madgewick is proud to see her students stepping up.

“We have some of the best students ever,” Madgwick said. “I do see some students stepping into leadership positions already.”

Although theater students may be the star of their show, they’re often overlooked by administration and the student body when choosing what events to fund and support. Theater Director, Bryce Jones, is aware that his students may feel overlooked, and he recognizes the truth behind that. However, Jones makes sure to emphasize that the only thing that’s changeable about the situation is what they do with it.

In visual art instructor Rachel Downs-Doubrava’s classroom, a stained circle sink awaits repairs. This circle sink has been here ever since the school was founded, and it has been needing repairs for at least 12 years now. “The circle sink is a monstrosity, it sometimes drains it sometimes doesn’t drain. We need it to clean our brushes, we need it to fill our cups, we need it to rinse our pallets. We’re needing the correct kind of filtration system for paint, it does not have that as far as I know,” Downs-Doubrava said. (Anders Benson)

“You want to be able to offer students as many opportunities as possible and the best environment in which to shine,” Jones said. “It’s a good lesson to learn about making the best out of what you have.”

Each program has been working hard to make the best of their budget. Whether it’s reusing resources or stepping up to make up for absent teachers, these students are succeeding despite the limitations. Sophomore Megan Green is one of these students. Green is Artemis Choir President and is active in theater, and she shared why it’s necessary that these programs are funded.

“It’s important to find things that students are passionate about,” Green said. “Because if they don’t have that, then they’re not going to have motivation to go to school because they look forward to these things.”

With the school year just beginning, it’s hard to know how the budgets will affect these programs, but there are ways to help students continue their passions. Green suggests considering donating to one or these programs, going to shows or even joining to support them.

“I look forward to working with other students to help raise money for the thing we are passionate about,” Green said.

About the Contributors
Maria Mosconi
Maria Mosconi, News Planning Team
Maria Mosconi is a sophomore reporter for Free State Journalism and it is her second year on staff. Otherwise, she spends her time doing ballet, hanging with friends, and learning to parallel park.
Anders Benson
Anders Benson, Photographer
Anders Benson is a sophomore and a photographer for Free State Journalism! He is involved around the school in drumline, choir, and theater. Outside of school, he enjoys singing, playing music, and learning about life.
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