Whoa, looks like we have to do a little more cutting in the budget for the next school year. I've already brought a couple ideas to the table but there are more things we can look at. First of all, since test scores have apparently not lost their credibility, we can (with a clear conscious) get rid of some of the more time consuming school traditions and programs that aren't absolutely necessary to score increase and maintenance.
Considering we have made cuts in music already, we need to take a look at other things, like the art programs. Really, with today's economic heartbeat so muffled under the weight, are things like still-life and sketch technique worth the time and money they require? It's more likely that children will need to know how to create braid rag rugs or mattresses out of old sweaters and duct tape. If not that, a more green art road must be laid. Children need to learn how to create useful and low cost items that better coincide with the lifestyle downsize that is bubbling. For example, students should learn to make paint from natural pigments found in plants and flowers; or how to use sand, branches, stones and vines to bring out the art the earth already holds.
With the savings that would come from reworking the curriculum, money normally used for buying clay, paints glazes, brushes, smocks and installations could go for other things. A local artist in residence could be hired each year to do big green school-wide projects like using prairie grasses to weave new stage curtains or perhaps recycle scraps or paper to use in papermaking classes given by the rec.department to make more paper for Shorewood students to use. This would not only be a money saver, but could expand to become bones of the wrapping paper fundraiser, as well. With use of additional recyclables kids could add to their papers sparks of alumionum foil, naturals like dried flowers, or whimsical snaps of color from candy wrappers and other littler left around Shorewood by Whitefish Bay residents.
Savings could also come from the P.E. departments. Movement education can so easily be built into the school day. Kids at the middle and high school have three to five minutes to get from class to class. If this was cut in half, students would have to run (or at least walk faster). If elementary school recesses were cut short, teacher would encourage students to move more quickly to get the wiggles out. These small measures could add ten minutes a day, 50 a week or 200 minutes a month! That would give us teachers time to work in the new writing programs, implement the computer based math assessments that accompany Everyday Mathe, run over to Office Depot to purchase a printer cartridge or sort throught the emails we now receive every day from parents, other staff members or administrators. We have to think outside of the outside of the box, people.
I will conclude my three part series on ways to respond to the Shorewood budget crisis this weekend with my third blog title, "Hold the Healthcare and Pass the Part-Time, Please."