CCHS students talk funding with Sen. Stivers

 Messenger photo by Andrea Cordle
 Central Crossing High School student Chris Johnson asks Senator Steve Stivers a question regarding funding for arts education. The senator stopped by the school for Arts Day on April 7 to discuss school funding. The school’s jazz band and symphonic choir performed at the event.

"Art is how we express ourselves," said Sen. Steve Stivers at Central Crossing High School on April 7. "It’s how we relate to one another."

Stivers, representing the 16th District, came to the school on Arts Day to discuss school funding and how it relates to the arts. He said students who are involved in art programs in high school do better on college entrance exams. In the year 2014, in order for students to graduate, they will need to fulfill credits in fine arts. Stivers said it is a cause that needs more attention.

"We have increased funding for arts education in the Senate," he noted, "but the federal government needs to do a better job supporting arts."

Students had the opportunity to ask the senator questions on school funding. One asked how the weakening economy will affect funding for arts education programs.

Stivers responded, "We are struggling with the economy in Ohio and have had to make some tough decisions. This year, we chose not to raise taxes."

Stivers explained that he expects the economy to pick up in the middle of next year.

"Hopefully, by the end of 2009, we’ll be able to add funding."

The South-Western City School District’s budget for this year was $190 million. They received approximately $85 million from the state and did not get a state increase.

"We are working with Governor (Ted) Strickland on funding education," said Stivers. "It is a very difficult and complicated issue. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to a point where everyone will be happy."

Stivers said as far as school funding in general goes, the state should get to a point where it doesn’t force districts to go the ballot too often. He also said they need to find a solution that does not tax elderly on a fixed income.

One student questioned whether a sales tax would work.

"A sales tax for the district is an option," answered the senator. "In order to do that, the district would have to go on the ballot."

To end the discussion Stivers said, "The number one success in education is not funding – it’s parental involvement."

Stivers encouraged students and parents to get involved with school funding issues. The event was sponsored by the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation.

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