Let me see if I can throw some light on the present school district budget crisis, and the most expedient way to solve the problem.
We drop the Fine Arts from the middle school and high school curriculums. Never mind that the teachers are doing an excellent job with a minimum budget to work with. Ignore the fact that the programs are very popular with the students and, for many, this is their most successful area of study. Ignore the fact, as well, that the present middle school art teacher is a highly capable, dedicated, enthusiastic person who has developed an excellent program. It is a historical fact that the Fine Arts have always been the scapegoat for fiscal problems and their elimination, often, the easy solution. I know this for a fact, since I have taught Fine Arts at all levels for about 40 years.
Payson has invested a great deal of its resources over the years for its young people. Parks, playgrounds, a public library, museums, and a variety of sports leagues have made our town the envy of many other communities. Our middle school and high school have offered a full range of athletic teams, and is still expanding the number of sports teams at the middle school level.
This community embraces the arts. Community concerts are a full house for every performance, as are the choral concerts. The two Payson Art League shows each year are packed for the previews, and the shows are well attended. The organization is more active than ever in its support of art in the schools. We have at least two major music festivals each year. ARTbeat, an art advocate group for the entire community, is off and running. Kid's College, a two-week summer art program for children at our own community college, has been extremely successful.
We, who are actively involved in bringing a variety of fine arts experiences into the lives of our school children, have never been more organized and optimistic - until now. If the community truly appreciates what the arts mean to all our lives, stand up and say so! Let the superintendent and the school board know that they will have to look somewhere else in order to fix their problem.
If you should want to see an indication of the high school's commitment to its art program, take a look at the present art room. It's a tiny room with no storage at all. To find this tiny room, go past the big dome, past the new bleachers, across the all-weather track, and you may find that tiny art room. It's next to the auditorium - which may not be used at all next year. What a shame!
Donn C. Morris, Payson