Art Supply Funding Creates Obstacle For Duluth Public Schools

By KBJR News 1

March 25, 2013 Updated Mar 26, 2013 at 8:42 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The funding for art supplies at Duluth public schools has some art teachers facing challenges when it comes to providing enough resources for their students for an entire school year.

The average supplies budget for elementary schools is divided between math, science, reading and other classes.

Staff at Duluth Public Schools say student creativity comes up short because of their current funding situation.

"Art is—you know—utilizes a lot of material in order to do the projects and meet the standards that the state has set for the kids," Bonnie Wolden, the Principal at Lester Park Elementary, said.

For Lester Park Elementary... nearly 125 dollars are allocated each year for each grade...kindergarten through the fifth...for art classes.

That's about three dollars and 50 cents per pupil each week for project supplies and materials.

"I think that it's a matter of people making a decision about what's the most important," Wolden said.

Wolden says special courses at the elementary school on the west side are cut due to funding in order to provide teachers in other classes... such as in math or reading.

"This time of year, I'm kind of doing like, a lot of water color, drawing—just got through the second grade," Reola Williams, the Art Teacher at Lester Park Elementary, said.

Williams—who is the only art teacher at Lester Park Elementary says each year she plans to recycle materials from projects from prior years, but says any extra funding would help.

"Because of funding, you know, people think that the reading or writing, the math is more important. As far as I am concerned, it's all important. There's math in art, it's all kind of interconnected," Williams said.

The director of business services of Duluth Public Schools Minnesota lawmakers are working to get more funding.

But for now, he says there are many worthy subject areas that are competing for a very limited amount of funds.

"It's very difficult as we make these decisions and I think we just need to continue to work together and make them as best we can," Bill Hansen, Director of Business Services for Duluth Public Schools, said.

"Being patient if they make a mistake, you know just start over again. It's not the end of the world. Just to do their best. I want them to feel good about themselves," Williams said.

Many schools in the Duluth school district, including Lester park Elementary, hold fundraisers to help boost its art funding.

Local businesses also get involved by donating paper, fabric and other art related supplies.

Justin Reis, NNC.
jreis@kbjr.com