Budget cuts affect art and music programs in Minneapolis Public Schools

Minneapolis Public Schools budget cuts continue to be an area of ​​concern as South High School students worry about future challenges when enrolling in elective classes.

In April, the board of education said the district needed to make about $27 million in cuts for the upcoming school year.

School officials said the budget shortfall stems from new teacher contracts and a loss in enrollment.

South High School students fear the downsizing could have a negative effect on their school experience.

“I really like to dance, so to have the opportunity to perform and dance, especially within that community, has been really great,” said South High School senior Clara Conry.

Conry danced for four years in the arts program at South High School.

“It was the community. A lot of my closest friends dance along with a lot of other people I know and it’s a very supportive environment,” she said.

She calls it an outlet to lose herself in music and find ways to cope with a couple of tough years.

“At the dance, we can talk about what we want to talk about, like COVID, and the kids have a means to discuss it, which is not true for a lot of classes,” Conry said.

But those experiences can be put on hold.

“It’s kind of annoying to know that if I ever go back, it’s most likely not going to be there,” Conry said.

According to an email sent to parents at South High School earlier this month, the principal wrote that enrollment numbers are declining, so cutting classes and staff is next.

The email explained that some subject areas may have fewer class sections.

In another email obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the principal outlines a plan for the school to get through the second round of budget cuts.

In the dance program, the full-time teacher is moving to part-time. In music, a full-time employee will be cut from the show.

“I was planning to stay next year, but now that there could be cuts, I may not even be able to get into the class as we have to make room for new freshmen to join classes,” Bernice Trenou, South High School sophomore said.

School officials said if enrollment increases in the summer or fall, the district would review staffing.

Trenou said keeping the program at full capacity is critical.

“It is very depressing to know that this might be the only way that some people can communicate with other people through art or anything else. It’s like, how can you take something away from them that they express? Trenu said.

Through the program, students perform and showcase their talents in Minneapolis while rubbing shoulders with local artists in the industry.

It is an experience that students say is priceless.

“I hope there is a future for me somewhere where I can keep dancing,” Trenou said.

Evette Porter, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis School District, said the district anticipates the state will award additional funding to schools, but they aren’t sure when or if that will happen.

The Minneapolis School Board will vote on the district’s budget in June.

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