The Debate of Funding Arts Versus Sports: How San Angelo ISD Balances Out
SAN ANGELO, TX - “Sports receive more funding than arts and music programs in elementary and secondary schools.” This is an argument taking place across the nation for some time, so San Angelo LIVE! decided to look into how the San Angelo Independent School District (SAISD) balances the arts with sports in education, and if they are equitably funded.
SAISD Public Information Officer Jamie Highsmith emphasized that there are many opportunities for students to participate in art programs at all grade levels. Elementary school students “have artistic opportunities with their homeroom teacher.” Students attending middle school, the freshman campus and high school, are able to engage in artistic endeavors “by taking actual art classes (Art 1, 2, 3 and 4), or classes in the performing arts: band, choir, and/or orchestra.” Thus, there are four areas of visual and performing arts offered by SAISD. At the high school level, SAISD also offers culinary arts classes.
Also, SAISD offers a great variety of sports. Highsmith underscored that all elementary school students are enrolled in a physical education class. Once students are in middle school, they are given the opportunity to pick from six different sport programs: football, volleyball, basketball, cross-country, track and tennis. When students enter their high school, they have additional options available to them: they can also opt to select one of the following sports: swimming, gymnastics and golf.
Thus, students who enter kindergarten, and eventually graduate as high school seniors, have nine different sport options available to them throughout their school years at SAISD.
Even though there are more options available for students to join an extra curricular class focused on sports than on visual and performing arts, according to information provided by SAISD, the teachers’ compensation for the different areas seems to be quite similar.
Below is a table that outlines average salaries for teachers in both sports and visual and performing arts provided by the Human Resource department at SAISD.
Coaches at SAISD are considered teachers unless they are classified as campus athletic coordinator. Therefore, the school district is able to pay both sports and arts faculty fairly across the board, based on their teaching experience. According to the 2016-2017 SAISD Compensation Plans, teachers on a 10-month contract have a pay range of $39,000 to $58,250. For those on a 12-month teaching contract, teachers have a pay range of $46,800 - $69,900. Overall, there are six monthly contract options available to SAISD teachers. If coaches, or other teachers for that matter, have extra duties – away sports games, traveling for UIL competitions – they are given extra “stipends from the district to help compensate for the extra hours they are on duty,” Highsmith said.
According to the graph provided by SAISD, the highest average paid salaries in the area of sports and visual and performing arts are in Swimming, with an average salary of $65,407, followed by Band at $61,802, and Orchestra, with an average of $58,397. Football follows closely with an average earning of $54,695. The highest average salaries for each of these four areas are all achieved at the high school level.
The average pay for freshman band, freshman football, freshman basketball, high school theater arts, high school basketball, high school choir follow closely to round out the 10 highest paid sports and visual and performing arts areas at SAISD.
However, hypothetically speaking, average pay means there could be three teachers in band, one making $100,000, one making $50,000, and the third making $75,000 for example. This would make the average pay $75,000 with three employed people. The average in football could be 10 coaches making various salaries with the average pay still being $75,000, but with 10 coaches, more money would be allocated to sports than to band. Therefore, the number of art teachers versus coaches can affect the balance of funds allocated to the arts and sports.
Also, in this case, the graph suggests that the average pay for teachers, in both sports and visual and performing arts, appears to be rather similar, although there is a noticeable discrepancy between the number of course offerings available in sports and in arts/music.
Overall, each school is provided a budget for programs offered at SAISD, giving teachers extra monetary funds during the school year. The principal, together with input from his/her teachers, decides on how these funds will be spent ( i.e. how much money will be available for each course). SAISD also allocates a significant amount of money for athletic trips, and for the purchase of musical instruments for students enrolled in band and/or orchestra, and who do not have the means to purchase instruments themselves.
One Final Note
There are indeed also areas where sports and the performing arts overlap--for instance, cheerleading, the drill team and theater. All of these programs foster the emotional and intellectual growth of students.
Many students don’t know at a young age what career they will eventually embrace, but many educators believe sports and the visual and performing arts are a good way of exploring what they are good at. These programs teach students discipline, team spirit and creativity. SAISD acknowledges that.
Based on our findings, the average pay scale of teachers at SAISD suggests that public schooling in San Angelo does focus on both the arts and sports; however, there are still many people across the nation who feel the gap between the two remains a big issue.