District Looks to Community to Keep Arts in Schools

ROCKFORD (WIFR) --After facing layoffs and program cuts, District 205 is now teaming up with the community to figure out how to give students the education they say is crucial for their future, and we’re not talking about math or science classes.

Jefferson Senior Sarah Swanson is thankful she's able to draw at Jefferson High School

Swanson said, "Because it teaches you devotion and how to be into something that's different."

Some District 205 students don't get that opportunity.

Sharon Nesbit-Davis from the Rockford Area Arts Council said, "The offerings are not equal, there's not consistent curriculum across all middle and high schools."

The district also cut seventh period a few years ago which eliminated an elective. Nesbit-Davis believes the arts should be a requirement and integrated into all classes.

Nesbit-Davis said, "If they're studying the civil war they might create scenes in which they're a soldier having to plan a battle."

Swanson said, "Then you'd have more experience and memorization for what you've done."

It’s those kinds of ideas Rockford Public schools are considering.

Julie Palkowski from Dist. 205 said, "We have many groups we're working with to look at how do we effectively utilize resources, whether that's teaching artists, staff, equipment, facilities."

In an uncertain economy the arts could be the future.

Nesbit-Davis said, "We need an innovative thinking, creative workforce coming up because we don't know what kind of jobs our kids are going to end up having [and] they need to be able to leave school with critical thinking ideas."

Just last year the district's Creative and Performing Arts Program known as “CAPA” was in danger of closing the arts department also lost some staff.

In a 23 News Poll, 56 percent of you said you think arts programs are a necessary part of education even during a shaky economy.


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