The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday February 6th

State Officials: No Cuts Directed Toward Art Programs As of Now

Rebuking rumors that area school systems are thinking of cutting funding for the arts programs, Orange County Board of Education member Delores Simpson said the board had not discussed making cuts specific to the arts.

"As of now the arts programs are still safe," she said. "As of now the cuts are not in that direction."

Simpson said the board was fighting an "uphill battle" to find the funds required to keep area schools fully up and running while working within the state's budgetary constraints. But Simpson added that if additional cuts need to be made, there stands the chance that schools' arts programs will have to be cut.

"I'm hoping that will not happen," she said.

Ruby Pittman, director of Budget and Planning for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said that the school system will be facing cuts for the next school year and that some choices are going to have to be made. It is unclear at this time how much say the school system will have in determining which programs to cut. The state government has the power to tell school systems what they can and cannot do.

"They can certainly tell us where to make the reductions," she said. "We hope that we will have control over any cuts that have to be made."

It looks as though school systems will indeed have the power to choose whether they want to make arts-specific cuts, said Sen. Howard Lee, D-Orange.

"Each school system may make a decision to downsize the arts program in their system," Lee said. "That is an individual decision."

Lee's statement has been backed by the legislature so far. Amy Fulk, spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, said Orange County Schools -- and all other state school systems for that matter -- will remain safe from arts-specific legislative cuts.

"We have not made any cuts specific to the arts budget," she said.

However, Fulk echoed Simpson's sentiment that it is still too early in the game to tell exactly what will happen. Fulk said anything that has been proposed in the legislature is subject to change.

"They're just looking at all of the options out there," she said.

As budgetary cuts are increasingly brought to the forefront of discussion, the school systems' primary concern is keeping students and education the top priority. Pittman said that as the effect of previously established cuts becomes more clear and as additional cuts are made, the goal is to make sure that students do not suffer unnecessarily.

"Our goal is to have the least impact in the classroom," she said.

Lee said that is the hope of the legislature as well.

"The legislature is targeting a decrease in administrative budgets and are considering making other adjustments," he said. "Some items under consideration is increasing the class size by one student, delaying the purchase of school buses and targeting areas that do not directly impact the instructional stream."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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