Minneapolis Public Schools students faced with arts programming budget cuts

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Minneapolis Public Schools students will be faced with arts programming budget cuts heading into this school year.

Over the summer, the district approved $27 million in cuts. District officials said the budget shortfall comes from new staff contracts, loss in enrollment and less funding.

Some South High School dance students are worried the budget cuts will impact their learning experience in the arts programs. 

“I feel like my whole body takes over. Honestly, dancing is like one of my favorite things to do,” Jade Masiee-Albers, South High School sophomore, said. 

Masiee-Albers steps on stage and into a different world. 

“I just forget about everything else. I just focus on the movements and it’s just such a powerful thing for me,” she said.

Last year, she joined the dance program at South High School, but stepping into her sophomore year, she’ll have to fall into a new rhythm. 

“Now classes are going to be a lot more full. So there’s going to be less time to collaborate directly with my teacher,” she said. “Plus it will make it really hard for everyone who wants to do dance to actually get into the class in the first place.”

According to Minneapolis Public Schools, enrollment in the dance program at South High School is less than 100 students for the school year. As a result, the district is cutting about 3 hours of dance per day. 

Budget cuts are based on student interest and enrollment, according to MPS.

In South High Schools’ band department, one full-time employee is being dropped from the program to cut costs. 

“That spirit of collaboration is something that we are really proud of at South and to lose a colleague and an office partner is something I’m personally very sad about,” Sophia Butler, South High School Orchestra and band teacher, said in a phone interview. 

Last year, Butler said band was offered five periods per day, but it dropped to three this year. 

“Some students aren’t able to fit band or orchestra in their schedule because of the limited hours that is offered during the day,” Butler explained. 

Butler mentioned arts programming is what drives some students to come to school daily. 

“I talk to students all the time who have who struggled getting to school, but they come because they want to play in orchestra and because they want to play in bands,” she said. “We’re creating, communicating, and working on expression and all of those skills are just so important to work on.”

Butler and students said arts programs push for creativity and create an outlet you can’t find in a typical classroom.

With these budget cuts, Minneapolis Public Schools still meets state requirements for arts programming.

Schools across Minneapolis will see similar arts programming budget cuts when school starts next week.