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Fine Arts Education Funding Threatened

John Pemble/IPR
Lisa Hesse teaches Findley Elementary students how to turn their 2D drawings of monsters into a clay sculpture.

A program to benefit fine arts instruction in Iowa classrooms is on the chopping block, as the Iowa legislature considers Governor Branstad’s education budget for next year.  

The governor recommends eliminating a $25,000 appropriation for a mentoring program for fine arts teachers.  

The budget recommendations reflect tough choices

Through the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, teachers raised money from the private sector and were expecting a matching grant from  the state.

“I think they have taken the initiative to bear their share of the burden and I think we should be a consistent and reliable partner,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames).  “I think that this is a very important thing to do to promote fine arts in the public schools.”

Quirmbach is the ranking Democrat on the Education Budget Subcommittee.   He says the program would help primarily new teachers, but others might also benefit.

“It’s a mentoring  program  for fine arts  teachers to help them understand what kind of teaching goals they should have in  the classroom, what the best method is for achieving those goals, that kind of thing,” Quirmbach said.      

Credit John Pemble/IPR
Executive Director of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education Leon Kuehner testifies before the Iowa Senate Education Committee January 28, 2015.

A spokesman for the governor said his recommendations reflect tough choices that had to be made in order to create a balanced budget.  

“This is a very tight budget and revenues are simply not as high as anticipated,” said spokesman Ben Hammes.

Other programs that would be cut under the governor’s education budget include local libraries and  English Language Learning.    

Items that would see an increase next year for the Department of Education include computer science instruction and some early reading initiatives.   

A part-time fine-arts consultant position will remain at the Department of Education.