Local school district is cutting fine arts budget
WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. - Schools all across our four state region are cutting funding, trying to make ends meet, and that forces school leaders to make tough choices about which programs go and which ones stay.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois law requires schools to spend an average of about $6,100 per student.
After a $518 million budget cut statewide this year, that 'per student average' has fallen to around $5,500.
Fine Arts programs are often the first to go when school districts look for places to cut, and that is exactly what is happening in West Frankfort.
So, Wednesday night, concerned parents and grandparents gathered to make a plan to save the arts.
"My son has been performing in the arts in theater and music since around second grade," said mother, Kerri Melvin.
Melvin does not like to think of what her son's life would be like without a good theater program.
"He would have been left out and I can't hardly stand the thought of another child feeling that way and not having something, some way to express themselves, whether it be through music, or art," said Melvin.
But the school district is slashing the music and art fund and virtually eliminating the programs in the elementary and middle school.
"I see the future of our music and band programs, and art, fading away completely," said Melvin.
The people at Wednesday's meeting want to start a program; anything and everything related to fine arts.
They want to pick up the slack left by the struggling school system.
"We would like to be able to hold fundraisers, we'd like to support the school, collaborate with the school," said Melvin.
Melvin has strong ties to this community and wants to see it prosper.
"I grew up here in West Frankfort. I went to school here, I'm from four generations of graduates of this school," said Melvin.
But to her, a strong arts program is a non-negotiable.
"We will have to move," said Melvin.
She says she'd hate to say goodbye to her home, but her son's future is more important.