Public shares concern over future of Bozeman School District fine arts education

BOZEMAN — A public meeting was held at the Wilson School Building on January 23 where several people from the community came to voice their concerns over the future of fine arts education in the school district.

“We were thoughtful, and you basically spit in the face of the arts,” said one community member followed by clapping from others there to support the arts.

“We heard from the community, and you saw there were no K-12 teachers making comments,” said Superintendent Casey Bertram. He says they’ve done a good job communicating with teachers and administrators but…

“We have more work to do on the external communication,” said Bertram.

The board of trustees was faced with concerns over the elimination of the fine arts director position, which Bertram says is no longer needed to be an administrative position.

“A teacher on special assignment could move into that role,” said Bertram.

The role of the fine arts director was mostly tied to the school district’s K-12 music programming.

“It’s an advocacy position within the community, a liaison with other fine arts organizations, a support role for teachers in terms of evaluating k-12 music teachers, and support for organizing many events that occur in the fine arts,” said Bertram.

Bertram says that even though this administrative position is eliminated, parents shouldn’t expect the arts to go away in Bozeman.

“We’re not anticipating any major changes in K-12 fine arts programming in the district. It’s important to clarify that the reduction of the fine arts director position doesn’t mean support for the arts goes away,” said Bertram.

In fact, Bertram says they are working on new ways to expand fine art offerings that are not as accessible to K-5 and K-8 students.

“Visual arts in our K-5 schools and Theater in K-8 schools are areas that we have some equity work to do,” said Bertram.

Bertram is encouraging anyone with questions to reach out about any of the budget reductions. Public comments can be submitted through email at [email protected]

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