Fine arts program will be funded despite budget transfer

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ Staff Writer

Money earmarked for fine arts programs has been transferred into the Clovis Municipal Schools operational budget, but fine arts programs in the district will still be funded in the next school year, school officials said.

“When funds are earmarked, your hands are tied,” CMS Deputy Superintendent Ladona Clayton said.

By transferring the funds into the operational budget, school officials have more freedom in determining how to use the money, although it still must be used for fine arts programs, Clayton said.

A menu of K-6 programs will be funded through $830,000 in state-issued fine arts funds.

Retained as a result of the funds are the salaries of seven music teachers, the string music program, the Ambassador Choir, The Brick Road of Perfect Cultural Friendship and the Arts in Schools program, which keeps art teachers in every Clovis elementary school, Clayton said.

The merger of Bella Vista Elementary and Lincoln-Jackson Arts Academy, a major concert production and the salary of the CMS music director will also be funded through the state money.

“We were happy to see that the heart of our arts programs stayed intact,” said Clayton, chairwoman of the CMS Fine Arts Committee. “Our approach was to safeguard any item that truly affected programs that children benefited from.”

The procurement of decorative or permanent art has been halted as a result of budget concerns, however, Clayton said.

Fellow fine arts committee member Shelly Norris labored alongside Clayton to match available funding with fine arts programs.

Since the budget crunch, “we are being more creative with our arts funding,” Norris said.