Report: Budget cuts have affected fine arts programs in schools across Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY – While education advocates are fighting for higher school funding, a new report suggests that many Oklahoma children are not being introduced to the fine arts.

In 2017, many Oklahoma schools were left with some tough choices after their budgets were slashed.

Students at Southeast High School sent News 4 an email after many of their favorite programs were cut. The school’s drama program was cut, while many art classes were hanging on by a thread.

“We had a teacher leave an art show on Friday to see if he could get free paper so the kids could keep their program, so we’re looking at the community to give us things so we can sustain,” said Mylissa Hall, principal for Southeast High School.

The school’s band teacher told News 4 that 17 students were sharing four music books because there was no room in the budget for new books.

Data pix.

As education advocates are still fighting for more funding, a report from the Oklahoma State Department of Education shows that many districts' fine arts programs haven't recovered.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute states that in the 2017-2018 school year, Oklahoma had 1,110 fewer art and music classes than just four years ago. In all, it shows that 28 percent of Oklahoma public school students were without access to fine arts classes.

Officials say schools in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas have the highest average arts offerings, while schools in southeast Oklahoma have the lowest average arts offerings. In fact, the agency says there are 29 districts that offer no fine arts classes.

The report shows that students who attend school in rural areas and those who attend lower-income schools are less likely to have access to fine arts classes.

Officials say many schools rely on fundraising to save art classes, but lower-income schools often rely on private organizations to fund their programs.

Research shows that students who take art courses show more interest in class, are better behaved and score higher on standardized.

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