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When arts activists gathered this noon in Evanston to plan for an upcoming youth arts event, much of the buzz was about how many fewer arts teachers there’ll be in local schools next year.

Chute Middle School art teacher Cindy Adler said three of her Evanston/Skokie School District 65 art teacher colleagues have received layoff notices from the school administration.

The school system’s public information officer, Pat Markham, confirmed this afternoon that the board has voted to layoff three art teachers, as well as two music teachers and six other people.

The layoffs will amount to 9.3 full-time-equivalent positions, since some of the people being let go are in part-time jobs.

Markham noted that under the state school code the district has to give teachers notice of layoffs at this time of year, even though there may still be changes in staffing needs that could result in some of the dismissed teachers being rehired by this fall.

The layoffs amount to about 1.7 percent of the district’s workforce of about 650 instructional employees.

Two years ago the district sent layoff notices to 29 teachers as it faced a projected budget deficit of up to $5.8 million.

But most of those teachers were rehired after the district’s financial picture turned out to be less dire than anticipated.

Markham said the art layoffs were “programatic reductions” that result from changes in how the district plans to allocate staff for next year.

Adler said the changes will mean art teachers will have to teach seven class sessions a day next year instead of six.

Markham said the changes would still keep teaching loads within the union contract mandated maximum of 1,490 minutes of pupil contact time for teachers each weeek.

She said the district will continue to provide art and music instruction to students at each grade level next year.

The noontime meeting, at Autobarn Mazda, was designed to mark the 25th anniversary of the Young Evanston Artists program, and to plan for expansion of the program as it enters its second quarter century.

One idea the group discussed was holding a series of forums on expanding arts opportunities for young people — starting with a session for elementary and high school teachers next October.

This year’s YEA art fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, in the Chicago-Dempster shopping district.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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12 Comments

  1. Counterproductive

    This appears to be a move in the wrong direction.  Not only will it slice and dice our fine arts teachers by making even more of them teach in multiple buildings and be further at risk of burnout, but it also appears to work against narrowing the achievement gap.

    http://www.miller-mccune.com/education/arts-involvement-narrows-student-achievement-gap-40745/

    Of course this came out over spring break, when many D65 parents are out of town.  Why are we now laying off eleven education professionals?  Which teachers have the misfortune of having gotten pink slips?  What happened to the projected budget surplus from earlier this winter?

  2. Hardy Murphy’s answer to the budget crisis

    This is why many of us voted against the school referendum.   Teachers are more important than buildings.

    How many more staff will be sliced to balance the budget?

  3. Just the beginning….

    This is just the beginning. We will probably hear of other "re-designed programs"

    I know some of these teachers who got a pink slip. They were told that they were being replaced by other staff  due to "program re-design"  The funny thing is that nobody has seen these program re-design.  Where is the transperancy?  Why can't they spell out their real intentions. Perhaps it is because the people who will be affected by the program re-design have not been told yet.  All of these smokescreens make it difficult to see the real truth and the real intentions.

    And yes, what about this surplus? Is this how we got the surplus? Cutting art teachers is simply going backwards.  Fine arts is the glue that keeps everything together. Fine arts is what kids look forward to everyday.  Our elementary fine arts teachers already are fragmented and some teach 200-350 students every week in 2 different schools! The fine arts teachers of D65 are dedicated professionals who put in long hours EVERY year in order to reach the artistic potential of each child. When will this administration learn that you can teach reading and math skills through fine arts classes and through all of the classes.  When are we going to integrate our curriculum and teach the WHOLE child?

    Why are the fine arts products of our children good enough to be displayed in the district office yet not good enough to have these full time staff? The board room windows were designed by D65 students and when you see the JEH center, you get the feeling that they are all about the kids. Well, that too is a smokescreen. Appearances can be decieving. I say we get rid of the current individuals making this crazy decisions and put people in their place that know and understand what a K-8 district should look like in the 21st century!

    People of Evanston need to tell the Board and the Administration that they do not approve of these "program redesigns" And besides, when was the last time any of the admins or board members visited a fine arts class or even a fine arts performance? Do they think things just magically happen? Perhaps they need to shawdow on of the many traveling Art teachers one day to see just how dedicated they are to children and to see just how academic art, music and drama really are!  My children come home excited when they have art or music because they are learning something new. I wish I could say the same for reading and math.

  4. So there is money in the

    So there is money in the budget to decorate the parking garage at Davis and Benson, but not enough to pay art teachers? Well THAT makes a whole lot of sense…

    1. More sensible

      It certainly makes a bit more sense if you realize (or learn) that the budgets those decisions are being based on are from two totally different taxing bodies. The public art budget in the Washington National TIF district is wholly separate from the District 65 school budget. The D65 board and administration has no control over the public art budget (of the Washington National TIF district), and vice versa. The monies in both budgets, while they may originally be drawn from taxes, do not co-mingle in some giant ephemeral "Our Tax Money" fund, waiting to be spent randomly by civic leaders.

      If this is all to difficult to understand, let me rephrase your comment to clarify it:

      "So there is money in Frank Smith's bank account to feed his kid, but not enough in Joe Jones' bank account to feed the Jones kids? Well, THAT makes a whole lot of sense"

      Hopefully that will help you understand why the two concepts can coexist.

      1. Less Sensible , – City is taking money from the schools!

        You are correct that they are two different taxing bodies, but the TIF district is taking the increment from the school districts and basically letting the council members have a slush fund to waste on their pet projects.

        What purpose is using money for a wine and cheese bar on Howard st, we are buying the bar fixtures out of our tax dollars, the money can be refunded to the school districts, ofcourse people are not complaining enoungh

        TIFs can be closed, sooner, not allowed to continue for the slush funds of council members.

        By the way the school districts must agree to the TIF they probably need to start exercise more thought to allowing the city to create any more, the recent Dodge Dempster TIF – will know doubt have some monkey business associated with it.

        While the point can be made the TIF is creating the development which drives the property tax increase, the city council is not closing these TIFs fast enough, so the money can come back to the school districts, one council member recently was trying to add more useless projects on to a TIF they were going to close, thus stealing money from the school districts.

         

  5. Raise the taxes

    Whats the big deal, just raise our taxes to pay for it. Jeez, it's that simple.

  6. Horrific concept

    What is HAPPENING around here? We moved to Evanston for the schools and as the years pass, I am regretting the decision. You cannot make me believe that the arts are not an important component to the development of a whole child. I'm ready to storm the BOE — who's with me?

    1. The arts open doors

      I couldn't agree more with you Mom in Evanston.  The arts opened up the wider world to me, and catalyzed my intellectual life. For some kids, finding their artistic talent is the beginning of identifiying their self-worth.  Math and reading are  important, but art develops imagination, which allows kids to make the leap to applying math and reading concepts to their activities in the world around them.    They need to cultivate a vision beyond their nose and the test paper in front of them, and see that the sky's the limit.

      I absolutely believe that youth who are at home with their creativity will be better equipped for a workforce that is hungry for innovation in order to create new jobs and products in the new economy.   Please lets not short-change our kids or our collective future by cutting their arts education or access to cultural arts programming. 

      I'm ready to sign a petition to get those art teachers back in the fall – where do I sign?

      1. Email the board members

        Email the Board members and go to this link to see what is on the agenda: http://www.district65.net/boardofed/ We need to ask the board what these cuts really are and what their plan for "program re-design" is all about! How about we "re-design" the current administration? How about we get some new leadership? Let's get a superintendent that has actually taught in a classroom and has actually led a school as a principal? Maybe then we can get back on track…… We need to continue to let the BOE know how unhappy we are with our present situation!! Let's get up and speak up for our children.

  7. Come with us to the board Finance Committee meeting

    Your help is needed to make the case to reinstate the district art teacher position next year!

    Please join me in signing up to speak during citizen comments at Wednesday night's Board of Ed Finance Committee. If you can make the board meeting, but don't want to speak, just having your bodies present to represent our community's support of this issue support would make a powerful visual statement.

    Here are the details of the board meeting.  

    BOARD FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING 
    Wednesday, April 25, 2012
    Joseph E. Hill Education Center – Board Room                                                             
    1500 McDaniel
    6:30pm

    Public comments are the 6th item on the agenda of 10 total items.

  8. Your support is needed please attend this meeting

    Your support is needed to make the case to reinstate the art teacher positions in the district next year!

    Please join me in signing up to speak during citizen comments at Wednesday night's Board of Ed Finance Committee.  If you can make the board meeting, but don't want to speak, just having your bodies present to represent our community's support of this issue would make a powerful visual statement.

    Here are the details of the board meeting.  Please let me know if you plan to attend, and if you'll be speaking.

    BOARD FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING 
    Wednesday, April 25, 2012
    Joseph E. Hill Education Center – Board Room                                                             
    1500 McDaniel
    6:30pm

    Public comments are the 6th item on the agenda of 10 total items.

    Thanks!
     

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