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BISD students getting ready for protest

Updated: Sunday, June 8 2014, 10:23 PM CDT
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull

Teachers, parents and community members
have spoken out, but now Beaumont students are voicing their opinions on
proposed teacher cuts. They're planning to protest at Monday's BISD
board meeting, where trustees will discuss the issue.

The board
of trustees voted four to one in May to declare financial exigency, a
move that's paved the way for up to 300 possible job cuts, many of them
teacher's positions, to save $25 million.

The district released a
list of proposed positions to eliminate on Friday. On the list are more
than a dozen band, choir, orchestra and theater positions
district-wide. Students said they're worried about the impact
eliminating those positions would have on the district's fine arts
programs.

Some students spent Sunday afternoon painting posters for Monday's rally.

"I feel like we have to show them how much fine arts means to us," Hope Flores, a theater student at Ozen High School said.

"It's
just hit this point where the students need to use their voice that art
has given us," Antonio Trevino, another Ozen High School theater
student said.

The students got the idea for a rally after seeing
the list of proposed positions to eliminate. It included their theater
teacher's position.

"On the list it said one theater teacher is
getting cut from Ozen High School. Ozen High School only has one theater
teacher, therefore it's her," Flores said. "Without Mrs. Martin there
is no theater program."

Gina Martin is the theater teacher at
Ozen High School. She didn't know before they started their campaign,
but her students are leading the effort to save band, orchestra, choir
and theater positions.

"By cutting the things that they're
talking about cutting, there are lots and lots of kids that will be left
behind and that's just sad," Martin said.

She learned about the possible fate of her job through a text message from a friend.

"If
the position itself is eliminated then the logical conclusion is that
the program is eliminated along with the dance program, the orchestra
program, the choir program, leaving a school of over a thousand kids
with what appears to be two fine arts teachers on campus," Martin said.

Her
son, Franklin Martin, plans to attend Ozen High School next year as a
freshman and join the theater program. He's helping lead the protest.

"I'm not just doing this for myself or my mom, I'm doing it for the kids that are in it," Franklin Martin said.

The students said the fine arts program is more than just a class.

"It's where we get to be ourselves," Franklin Martin said.

BISD trustee Mike Neil stopped by the poster-making event on Sunday.

"When
the district announced what they're gonna cut, and it's not just
positions it sounds like it's almost departments," Neil said. "It has an
impact on the students and I think maybe it woke some of the students
up."

Neil said glad to see the students voicing their concerns but would like to hear any ideas they might have for a solution.

Hope Flores had one.

"I
think it's very unfair that students and teachers have to suffer
because of carelessness of the administration. I believe the
administration should take a cut in their paycheck to make room for
programs that matter," Flores said.

Fine arts students from Ozen
High School are not the only ones planning to rally at Monday's board
meeting. Band members, past, present and future are planning to join the
effort as well as students from neighboring school districts.BISD students getting ready for protest


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