Budget Cuts in Oklahoma City School District Impact Art Programs

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

For the last several months the Oklahoma City Public School District (OKCPS) has grappled with tough decisions surrounding its impending $30 budget cut scheduled for the next school year. The OKCPS’s most recent decision warns that art students will likely suffer from a lack of critical funding.

Back in March, the OKCPS announced it would begin handling the budget crisis by eradicating 208 teaching positions and nearly 100 administration positions. Doing so, the OKCPS expects to save roughly $13 million in employment costs.

The next wave of cuts took place in May when Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora told KFOR News the OKCPS had decided to save an additional $10 million by:

  • Synchronizing school times to achieve more efficient bus usage
  • Postponing the purchase of new textbooks
  • Limiting student tutoring services between school terms
  • Downsizing elementary school supplies
  • Restricting athletic department spending
  • Scaling back assistant coaching positions
  • Curbing outside vendor contracts
  • Halting all non-federally subsidized travel

Despite these drastic moves, the OKCPS still needed to cut future spending by $7 million. One month later, the OKCPS held a meeting with district principals to declare a 50% cutback for fine arts funding in an effort conserve approximately $200,000.

Some art teachers believe the decision may jeopardize the futures of their students, particularly those enrolled in Advanced Placement classes.

John Marshall High School art teacher Kyla Kaufman was quoted by KFOR News saying, “My students need to perform at the college level so they can get the credit they need and deserve. We need nice materials and equipment to produce college level artwork.”

Although concerned, Kaufman is already brainstorming up ways to supplement diminishing resources by incorporating recycled art and found object art into her curriculum.