Leander ISD consolidating fine arts

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Some Central Texas school districts are still making drastic cuts after the state legislature cut education funding in 2011.

The Leander Independent School District is in year two of a three year cost savings plan. They will be eliminating more positions on all campuses and at central office. Fine arts is taking the biggest hit.

The district is combining music and theater classes which will now be taught by one teacher instead of two.

“We don’t anticipate that we’re going to be losing LISD family members,” said Veronica Sopher, Leander ISD Spokesperson.

There will be 21 positions cut on 23 elementary campuses. Sopher said teachers in those positions can apply for other openings.

Kara Dennis, a parent of three Leander ISD students, is highly concerned. She used to homes chool her children and said the fine arts program at Cypress Elementary in Cedar Park is what attracted her family to the district.

“The theater arts program and the music program both offer things [my son] comes home and is so excited about,” said Dennis.

Two of her children have landed big roles in the annual musical the campus has put on for 16 years. She is concerned the cuts will put the production in jeopardy.

“I’m not going down without a fight,” said Dennis. “These teachers are important to us and so is this program.”

The district is cutting other positions at middle schools and high schools which will lead to larger class sizes. A few cuts will also be made at central office. All of the personnel cuts for the 2014-2015 budget will equal a savings of $2.5 million.

The district says the quality of fine arts will not change, just the manner in which the classes are delivered.

“Our superintendent is a former theater teacher,” said Sopher. “He takes this very seriously. He was a theater teacher in LISD and he believes firmly and strongly in the value of the arts — performing and the visual.”

LISD Superintendent Bret Champion addressed the cuts in his weekly blog.

After doing some research, LISD said they could not find another Texas school district that has separate music and theater classes in elementary school.

“That’s what sets us apart,” said Dennis. “We are an exemplary school and an exemplary district and i believe that is part of why [my family] is still here.”

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