Several plead for more than one Kaneland High School art teacher

Posted4/14/2015 5:30 AM

Several students, parents and teachers pleaded with the Kaneland school board Monday to reconsider a decision to have only one art teacher at Kaneland High School next school year.

"Kaneland students are getting the message that art is not valued and the work they are interested in pursuing is not valued," said Andrea Helm of Maple Park, a Kaneland High parent.


A middle school art teacher is quitting at the end of this school year, and one of the high school art teachers will be transferred there.

Contrary to some students' perceptions, "Art is not a blowoff," said senior Chuckie Liss, who plans to work as a photographer. He, along with fellow senior Alexis Logan, presented a petition signed by 256 students.

The speakers said having only one teacher harms students because they won't be exposed to more than one approach to art; they may not have a sponsor for Art Club; larger enrollments are not conducive to learning in studio classes, which are more project-based and less lecture-oriented; students will get less advice and review as they develop portfolios for college admission; and that the sole teacher will have to teach up to 11 different courses, plus order and keep track of supplies.

Parent Bob Barnhart of Sugar Grove, an engineer, said that many architects and engineers come from an arts background.

Logan said the loss of the teacher has led to the cancellation of several advanced-level arts courses for the fall.

But Kaneland High School Principal Jill Maras said the school has canceled art classes the last several years due to insufficient enrollment.

Maras said the change to an eight-period schedule in 2012, from a block schedule, may have caused students to take fewer arts classes.

"I am saddened to think of a school the size of KHS having only one art teacher in its building next year." Maras told the board. "We are hoping to understand this trend to see if there is a better rotation of offerings needed," or more communication with students about the arts, especially with incoming freshmen.

The board did not respond to the comments, per its policy of not commenting on matters the public brings up that are not on the meeting agenda.

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