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Waynesboro School Board cuts art by half, adds Spanish

June 26, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Half of the art instruction for Waynesboro's fifth- and sixth-graders has been cut in favor of a new Spanish program.

The Waynesboro School Board approved the change 7-2 on Tuesday despite impassioned pleas by art teachers and parents.

"Pathetic," Dr. Lawrence E. Rogina, a local physician, grumbled from the audience before walking out.

Because of the change, Karen Papouschek submitted her resignation as chair of the district's art department, writing that "very few steps were taken to ... involve the community, parents, and teachers regarding the significant changes planned for the next school year ...."

Board member Stephen Kulla denounced the move as poorly planned and based solely on money. He and board member Stanley Barkdoll voted no.

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Board member Anna Bostwick-Foley said she understood Kulla's concern, but she pointed out that the board was not removing the entire art program.

After the board voted to cut art instruction in half, it voted 5-4 to accept Papouschek's resignation.

After that, Kulla refused to vote on the last 10 items on the agenda, which were mostly routine. He refused to comment to reporters as he left the building after the meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Gloria Pugliano told the board that elementary school art would be cut from 30 hours a year over two semesters to 15 hours over one semester. Spanish language would replace the time in the other semester.

Pugliano said foreign languages should be taught to children when they're young.

Also, the move would free up art teachers from the elementary school to move to the high school, Pugliano said.

During a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, elementary school art teacher Kaye Ressler lobbied against the cut. "Artists do not just happen," she said. "They are taught."

Art inspires some children who don't fare well in other areas, high school art teacher Tom McFarland said.

"Spanish would be great if it's in the appropriate way," said parent Laura Shank, a teaching assistant at the high school. "What has been proposed here is not the proper way."

Rogina, a parent, said art teaches children to think in different ways.

"Creativity is the key to success ...," he said. "Taking away 50 percent of their art is robbing them."

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