As a journalist, it is critical to ensure everything published on The Vision website is accurate, whether it be a hard news piece or an opinion piece.
I will be the first to say that the process of correcting the opinion piece regarding the budget of the athletics and arts departments has taken much longer than expected, almost a year at this point. A common phrase that I have heard many times is that journalism is not intended to make people happy, a phrase I share as it has been running through my head for much of this process.
There was no intent of upsetting any groups or individuals when I was writing this article; the intent was to publish an opinion I held during the time the piece was written. When I first received a marked up copy of my article from a reader, it was surprising to say the least as the most critiquing comments I had received on papers I had written in the past were along the lines of “use less passive voice” or “stronger diction would better support your argument.” In the article I had written, lines were marked up as “not at all correct.” Soon after the initial surprise and weight of the situation settled, my only mission was to correct an error and attempt to present information regarding the fine and performing arts department more accurately.
I could not tell you what opinion I hold now or if I even have one. As someone who plays both an instrument and a sport, I have much love for both parties mentioned in the article and have come to realize that both departments are more complex than I initially realized.
The numbers I had used in the article were proven to be incorrect. The budget I used did not reflect the full spectrum of the budget and did not account for potentially frozen budgets or money that was used elsewhere.
This experience, while one that was stressful, was a valuable one. It was never my intent to offend or upset anyone and I sincerely hope that this letter and newest article can provide peace and closure. In case of any further comments or questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
As students, we often underestimate the extent of how much money is needed and used in our school as budgets do not always represent the inner complexities that go into funding a program.
The Holliston High School Music Department involves many groups and events that need to be funded, making its budget complex.
Beyond band and chorus, the music department includes electives, ensembles that meet during DSB, Districts and All State students, after-school groups, the biyearly Orlando trip, and student started groups.
The school does not give any money for students to go to Orlando (except in the case of financial aid), so the students must pay the fees themselves. For students participating in Districts and All States, audition based performance groups run by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association, students pay the audition fees. If accepted into the program, the school pays for all other expenses, according to Mr. Stuart Britton, HHS chorus director.
Money for the music department in the high school is based off of what the department spent the previous year, not based off departmental needs. The issue in this system is that as the needs of each department change, the money spent the previous year is not necessarily accurate to the money that is needed to cover costs for the next year, according to Mr. Britton.
Money that is budgeted for the music programs can also be used in other areas in the school that may be more urgent. The principal, Ms. Nicole Bottomley, has the discretion to freeze budgets, preventing whatever program was frozen from spending the money allotted to them. Money can also be taken from the arts and used to buy something for another department. During some exceptionally cold winters, budgets were frozen to pay for heating.
In the budget itself, accounts which were frozen simply look like the money had not been spent; with no notation, the money was transferred and used in other ways, according to Mr. Britton.
The expenses of the band and chorus programs fluctuate as the needs of each program differ from year to year. Some years, not much money is spent if there are no significant expenses and if music was reused from previous years, but some years more money is spent.
This school year Mr. Britton, bought a new piano for the chorus room as the previous one was old and not working properly. The purchase of the piano was a major but necessary expense.
“Grease,” this year’s fall musical, had more expensive rights than previous shows. Rights for a show vary in price, as does the amount of props and costuming the theater department needs, so the overall cost of the show shifts every year.
Within the overall accounts for the fine and performing arts, there are sub-accounts. Mr. Britton made the example that the band program has money set aside for instrument repair and the purchase of music. Money for music cannot be taken from the instrument repair account.
During semesters in which certain groups do not run, the money which would have been used for that group is being used in other areas of chorus expenses. For example, the all boys choral group, The Testoster-Tones, has not always had enough participants and the group did not meet. In this case, the money allocated for T-Tones was used in a different area.
In the budget itself, there is a student activities line item where all the money for student activities is lumped together and each program gets a cut from that. All earnings from ticket sales and fundraising activities goes directly to whatever program raised the money.
The Holliston Music and Arts Parent Association (HMAPA) aids in fundraising but the money could go anywhere in the music and arts program K-12.
This year, an acapella group called Acapanthers was started by sophomores Olivia Skerry and Renee Torio. Torio buys the music for the club herself and none of the school’s money is spent. Alison Quinan donated two songs which the club will used in their latest Pops performance.
The fine and performing arts departments consistently exhibit the talent of the students involved, through concerts, musicals, and Art Saves Lives. Occasionally hindered by frozen accounts and a budget based on past years, money is stretched and spent in ways to better the experiences of the Holliston High School students involved.
*The article included below is Megan Forman’s originally-published ‘Athletics vs Arts’ article. This article contains incorrect monetary amounts.*
The lights flash on, a smattering of applause fills the tight silence. Two things can happen next, a team decked in red and black takes the field or the lead of the spring play takes center stage.
Athletics or the arts. Sweating or singing. Though both important in the school, should one be funded more than the other?
The Holliston High School budget allocates $390,781 to the athletics program and as of late February 2017, $383,584 has been used. The athletics program receives additional funds, with students paying $225 per season (winter, spring, and fall) to participate. This year, $233,294 was collected in student fees, making the total budget for the athletics program $624, 075.
Three of the most popular performing arts programs in the school are band, chorus and drama. The band and chorus share a budget of $1,000, a third of which they have used as of February. However, the year before, about $940 were used. The drama program has a budget of $950, and has used approximately two-thirds of it as of February.
Two-thirds of the budget is the most the drama club has used in the last four years. In the 2013-2014 school year, the club spent none of the budget. Last year, the club spent $54.75
Interestingly, the band and chorus budget allows $602 for the purchase of music, and yet, none of that money has been used in the last four years, including the current school year. The school could put this unused money towards the drama, band or chorus program or other areas where the money is tight.
Occasionally, you hear kids involved in the arts complaining about how athletics gets a bigger budget. And yet, looking at the numbers, the drama club doesn’t need $600,000. More money is always good, but an equal budget seems unnecessary.
Arguably, it’s hard to do a lot with $950. However, if the club used nothing one year, it does beg the question how much a small budget is limiting them.
Approximately 30 students, including tech crew, are involved in this year’s spring play. It costs $100 per student per show (excluding the One Acts which are free) to participate in the drama program. That means, on top of the $950 listed, the drama program is getting $3,000 for each show.
That amount is still much less than the athletics budget, but drama is not limited to $950 for a whole year. The program is getting a few thousand dollars for each of the major productions.
The athletics program has 18 sports total for the whole year that are part of the budget. Each of those sports needs money to pay coaches, pay for transportation to and from games/meets, purchase medical supplies, uniforms, and maintain the field house, fields, and track. Not to mention, sports also need equipment to play the actual game, like balls and nets, which get worn out fairly quickly.
A lot does go into a production; with costumes, props, and lighting, it’s easy to see how the cost could quickly increase. However, that cost is not all pushed into that one budget.
It is recommended for students to use their own clothes in productions and many use their own makeup. The electricity used for the lights is part of the school’s electricity bill. The drama program is not running off of solely $950; they’re getting money specifically for whatever production they’re doing and students are using their own clothes.
Even though athletics has a lot of money, not everything used is brand new. Uniforms are reused most years, and when a varsity team gets a new uniform, they will pass their old uniforms down to a JV or freshman team.
$400,000 is a lot of money to put towards one activity, but that money is used efficiently to cover the needs of the athletic department, rather than being left untouched.
The HHS athletics program is a good one, and the money that is put towards it is used for things the athletic program needs. But the athletic budget doesn’t need any more funds, there are enough there already. The drama program doesn’t need more money either. The productions that are put on are incredible, and if there is a lack of money, it certainly doesn’t show on the stage. The One Acts, which students don’t need to pay for, are also done very well.
Both of these programs are very different and require different skills, but whichever one gets more money has nothing to do with which one is more successful. The budget is based off of what the program needs.
The HHS athletics program is an undeniably bigger program in terms of students involved. The sheer number of students explains why the budget is a great deal larger. The arts program is smaller, not any more or less important, but smaller, so less money is needed to keep it running.
In terms of money, the numbers are exactly where they should be.