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Arts supporters protest school budget cuts in Downtown Fort Lauderdale; video

Editor’s note: Video is a Lou Lautin Production (

It was all about the arts Tuesday afternoon as art teachers and their supporters gathered on Las Olas, near the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, to protest planned budget cuts to arts, music, library and PE programs, primarily in the elementary schools.

To the chanting of kids saying “Save the Arts” and other students playing musical instruments, protestors held signs asking the Broward County School Board not to make planned cuts to the arts, and instead, find them somewhere else.

“We’re just not happy with what happened—when they cut the budget, they think it’s ok to just cut the arts,” said Glenda Lebiner, art teacher at Coconut Palm Elementary who was wearing one of many black shirts that read “Life Without the Arts?”. “It is so important at every level, especially with little kids.”

Broward County Public Schools are in the midst of beginning their budget process, and Superintendent James Notter has asked schools to cut six percent to help fill at least a $62.8 million budget hole that could get bigger, depending on state funding. And while school board members haven’t officially come out in favor of cutting special programs, the district has been urging schools to “share” these resources so that one teacher could be shared by up to four schools in the electives programs.

In anticipation of this, the Broward Arts Education Association held a protest yesterday to remind schools and officials why the “specials” are so important.

One teacher, who spoke anonymously in fear of her job, said that the district is attempting to eliminate all senior teachers by forcing them to resign, saying a school lost a teacher last week because of threats, harassment and bullying to save money.

Mark Tortora, a PE teacher at Central Park Elementary in Plantation, said his school still has the specials, and that he was there to try and maintain that.

“We see the children once a week—that’s all we get, even with concerns of childhood obesity,” said Tortora, adding he sees the kids for 30 minutes. “Michelle Obama just launched an obesity campaign, but yet Broward schools are looking at taking a step backwards in reduced funding, especially in elementary school where we can really reach the kids because they are like sponges.”

School board members are scheduled to continue union negotiations on April 6 followed by a workshop on April 13 that includes budget discussions. Follow their scheduled meetings here:

Related posts:

  1. School board member Dinnen comments on budget cuts
  2. Broward School Board meeting today to talk budget
  3. Close to a thousand protest outside Broward school board steps
  4. Broward passes FY10 budget with no tax increase; big loss in arts, services
  5. Teachers’ union planning loud protest tonight at school board

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Mar 24 2010. Filed under Art, Broward County, Culture, Families, Fort Lauderdale, Local news, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Arts supporters protest school budget cuts in Downtown Fort Lauderdale; video”

  1. Beverly Needleman

    As being a parent of an elementary school srudent, my daughter Issabella is a second grader at Floranada Elementary School in East Fort Lauderdale and thank goodness that she is a good student does well and loves going to school, I also know she especially loves her specials very much , specicifically her art and music classes along with her teachers, Ms. Rios who teaches music and Ms. Flower who teaches art she along with her friends one of which is a very good friend from kindergarten, Fiorella, both girls love attending school especially one the days that they have music and art because they know that they will have an awesome day at school. Issabella said, ” I love going to music because at music we get to play with our recorders and learn new notes and songs that are very fun and we also get to learn and play on the piano which I love to do very much.” Thanks to having these programs in her school Issabella has an opportunity to learn about and play an instrument that I as her aprent at this time am not financially able to give to her as an extra curricular activity so therefore, I am very grateful for this opportunity and the fact that this program is in her Broward county public elemtary school. Fiorella said,” I love going to art because we get to design a lot of pictures and we get to use pastels to do this which is really really very fun.” So, as you can see it is not only my daughter who enjoys these art classes, but her friends do as well, and I know that her parents are very grateful for these programs also, because they have said that to me. I feel that these programs including p.e. and media are important because they also give the children a break from there very serious academic studies and allows their minds to take a breather before coming back into their classrooms and having to now focus seriously again on the new lesson at hand in there academic studies which take very serious focus especially for children of elementary school age. Therefore, without these programs in our school system despite the fact that many good teachers would loose their jobs and incomes, I believe it would be a big detriment to our children and we would possibly see worse results in their academic achievement now and in their future years. So, there must be something else we can do to make our stand heard and our point heardy loudly and taken very seriously into consideration soon, so that these very unfortunate cuts to our childrens specials do not happen. There must be more to do to try and succeed in stopping this from happening besides just having one protest about it so please let me know what else there is we can do to stop this from happening and if there is a petition already going around to fight and stop this horrible cut from happening to and affecting our kids in a very negative manner or if you know how and what we have to do to start a peteition to stop this please let me know and I would be more than happy to sign it along with her Father and other parents I know that feel this way to. Thank you for your time and listening to my opinion on this I would love to hear any and all comments you have on this subject thank you once again.


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