It’s a problem that’s existed for decades: a lack of funding for the art program. It’s been discussed in movies, has had countless protests, and will perpetually continue. For the most part, Elkhorn High School does put a spotlight on the arts. We have a well-funded musical every year, the show choir gets funds to travel and buy new costumes, and the One-Act and the play get a fair amount of support. The problem that arises, however, is how to balance the money flow. Elkhorn Public Schools is putting their $146.9 million bond issue on the March ballot to be able to buy land for more elementary schools, update their older buildings, and, arguably most importantly, build a third high school. But with a third high school comes the problem of keeping the balance between the three schools.
EPS is one of the few districts that attempts to keep the differences between their high schools minimal. Compared to Omaha Public Schools, whose schools each have different core focuses, Elkhorn accomplishes this goal fairly well.
When the building plans for high school number three were announced, their art studio lacked a computer lab. At first thought, this isn’t a tantrum-inducing, throwing-things-across-the-room kind of problem. It’s just a computer lab.
But then it was announced that Elkhorn South would also be losing their computer lab with the reasoning that it wasn’t used much anyway. There hasn’t been a similar decision made at Elkhorn High, but the signs point to that being a very real possibility.
Still, you may ask, where is the problem? It’s just a computer lab, don’t art students work on paper?
The problem is that even Art I uses the computers. The school board argues that students would just use one of the nearby computer labs, problem solved. But classes are still held in those classrooms – those computers wouldn’t always be available. As for computer graphics classes, digital art is becoming increasingly important. It is far easier for artists to get a job as a graphic designer than it is for one who focuses on printmaking or painting.
As a solution to this problem, the school board claims that students could use their Chromebooks to access the Adobe Suite, which holds programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. The problem here is that Chromebooks don’t support any programs other than Google Chrome. That’s what makes them inexpensive. Just this year, Elkhorn spent thousands of dollars on new computers. It doesn’t make sense that these computers should be lost after just one year of use.
The argument of keeping the schools equal is also flawed. If the plan of uniformity was working, then Elkhorn High and Elkhorn South would have the same testing scores. Yet Elkhorn High has an ACT average of 23.6 while Elkhorn South’s is 25.6.
It’s no secret that Elkhorn puts a focus on the ACT. Standardized test prep is an ingrained part of life as a junior. Elkhorn Public Schools tries to give students every advantage when it comes to preparing for the ACT; investing in ACT Online Prep, having preparatory books available, even dedicating time for teachers to focus solely on preparing for the ACT. In theory, this is great. There’s no problem with making students prepared for a test that will largely affect their scholarship opportunities. But when the ACT overshadows all other classes and become a sole priority, that’s where trouble arises.
School is about more than just preparing students for a test. High school is supposed to prepare us for life and give us the skills needed to succeed in our field of choice. In life, a person needs to have a variety of skills. In today’s society, having a grasp of technology is no longer a choice; it is a necessity. Doing well on the ACT doesn’t give a person a first class ticket to success. Having the skills necessary to succeed early on will make them stand out to employers more than a test score will. After all, the mission statement of Elkhorn Public Schools is to “ensure a challenging and enriching academic environment that inspires students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become responsible citizens and lifelong learner”. Students cannot “develop the knowledge and skills necessary” to succeed without having the materials to do so.