Riverton Cuts Impact the Arts
Cuts in the Riverton School District saved nearly $2 million. While it helps to plug the budget gap, many wonder if it hurts the students.
Inside the Fine Arts Center at Riverton High School--a technical rehearsal. Outside of it--everyone from educators to parents and school board members wonder how cuts to fine arts programs like music and art will impact the district's future.
"For the entire board--I mean, nobody took this easily," Riverton School Board vice president Michael Klebe said. "It was a difficult decision."
Around 40 percent of Riverton's revenue comes from the state--which means Riverton relies on the state more than twice as much as the average Illinois school district.
"I understand why the schools have to make the cuts because the money isn't coming from the state of Illinois," Cheryl Armintrout said.
Armintrout is a retired Riverton Elementary music teacher. It's people like her that parents hate to see go.
"My son was upset last night about it because he loves the art and music," mom of four Kim Carpentier said.
Carpentier's oldest daughter is in the cast of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Riverton High School. There and at the middle school, music electives are being reduced. At the elementary and high school levels, art is being cut down.
"It's very difficult to see so many people lose their jobs, especially when the kids have become so attached to them," Melissa Babbs, the Fine Arts Booster president, said.
The board is reducing 27 positions. Five educators are leaving the district, and 22 will be laid off. Among them is a band director on the job for more than a decade.
"It's obviously not a very optimistic view when you start taking a look at long-term," Klebe said. "I'm hoping that obviously the Illinois economy will improve and that will then help improve the revenues to the state."
Riverton is projected to end this school year with a little more than a million dollars in reserves. They expect to maybe have half of that at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Babbs doesn't believe high school musical performances like "Fiddler on the Roof" will be threatened as long as the community keeps supporting them.
By the way-- that play runs April 5, 6, and 7. General admission tickets are $6.