Fine Arts vs. Sports: The Battle of the Budgets

by Siandhara Bonnet, Staff Writer

Over the years, the fine arts have been neglected and put into a hierarchy, especially in school. It’s depicted in movies and TV shows that the “nerds” and “geeks” belong to the fine arts, where the “jocks” and “cool kids” are in sports, the kings and queens. This is true when it comes to budgets in Leander. There have been many budget cuts, and these are hard times, but is it right for the fine arts’ budget to be cut before the sports budget?

The fine arts consist of art, dance, music, and theatre. These subjects are state-approved and listed under the Fine Arts Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. A school district that offers kindergarten-12th grade is required to offer a curriculum that includes fine arts. Sports consist of football, a big thing in Texas and also baseball, softball, lacrosse, cheer-leading, soccer, and track, to name a few. No student is forced to participate in organized school sports, but students at the high school level are required to have at least one credit of physical education in order to graduate from high school. The way to gain a P.E. credit in high school is to take band, gym, dance, cheer, or to be in athletics. Half of the choices to gain a P.E. credit are listed under fine arts, but the budgets for sports and fine arts programs aren’t even close to equal.

The fine arts have been proven to strengthen a student’s math, reading, critical thinking, and verbal skills. Involvement in fine arts programs can improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. With smaller budgets, the arts don’t have as much breathing room as other programs, so it restricts all the advantages possible if the budget was as much as, let’s say, the football budget. The football budget literally has millions of dollars which allows more room to buy what’s “needed”. Other than physical exercise and teamwork, sports don’t really increase anything other than the chance of getting injured, whether serious or not.

The varsity football team replaces their jerseys more often than any other team or organization at Leander when the ones that are still in use are perfectly fine. Those jerseys get passed down to the junior varsity, and the junior varsities’ to the freshmen. The theatre department only has thousands of dollars; the rest is produced by parents of the students participating or fundraisers which can only make so much. The money that has to be produced by the parents is used to pay for costumes which would normally be paid for by the theatre budget, but since there isn’t much in the budget, that’s not possible.

Recently, Leander Independent School District permitted A.C. Bible Jr. Memorial Stadium to be rebuilt. It is used by football, soccer, Blue Belles, marching band, and guard events, and by other schools. The rebuild was in fact necessary, but perhaps the cost wasn’t. That money could have been used to provide the band with new uniforms, which are replaced every ten years, or it could have been used to buy better paint and brushes for the art department.

There is no definite solution to the “battle of the budgets.” Some things do cost more than others, so it would make sense for one group to have more of a budget than the other, but only if the money is being used for useful things. If the fine arts needs materials, they shouldn’t have to go into their own pockets to buy what they need. If the sports budget is being used unnecessarily, perhaps it shouldn’t be as big, or the money should be put into another budget where the money is needed.

In hard times, budgets get cut and some things can’t be bought, but the things that aren’t necessary shouldn’t be bought with the money that could have been used to buy something that is needed. The fine arts needs their budget just as much as the sports needs theirs, so why should the fine arts get cut before the sports if the sports spend it unnecessarily?