Journalism funds cut, affects smaller districts

Jordan McEntee, Design Editor

The Kansas Department of Education is changing its educational funds, and journalism programs will not be eligible for funding under the new plan in 2012-2013.

Linda Affholder, BV Director of Career and Technical Education, said the program won’t completely lose financial support.

She said every course receives baseline funding, but some courses have additional weighted funding to support necessary equipment purchases or the number of students.

Newspaper and yearbook did fall under this weighted funding category, so the state looked carefully at the federal legislation for the eligibility of these funds.

“It’s important to understand that the programs won’t lose all funding,” Affholder said. “But the state looks at the demand for a certain occupation, and currently print journalism doesn’t have very high levels of growth. So when areas aren’t in very high demand, they may lose funding.”

Affholder said the cuts shouldn’t really affect the Blue Valley School District; however, smaller districts might lose teachers or even the publications themselves.

“We are very fortunate in Blue Valley to have such great support from the community and from the district,” she said.

Journalism adviser Jill Chittum said publication staff members learn both written and verbal communication skills, how to speak to people they don’t know, how to be part of a team and essentially how to manage a business.

“They learn to actually sit face to face and have a conversation with people,” she said. “They also use skills that they’ve learned in other classes and apply those academic skills in their writing or photography to put out a professional product.”

Affholder said even though journalism programs are losing some funding, the district recognizes their importance.

“We definitely see the value in these courses,” she said. “They offer amazing college readiness skills along with the service they provide to the community and to the school.”

Yearbook staff member junior Lauren Reardon also said yearbook provides skills that can’t be taught in any other class.

“In journalism we develop a professional atmosphere,” she said. “We learn about interviewing, budgeting and meeting deadlines, things that you just don’t get from art or sports.”

Sophomore Erica Lange said she thinks the student body would be very upset if the Tiger Print or Reflections yearbook didn’t come out.

“Both the yearbook and newspaper are pretty stellar,” she said. “They put in a lot of hard work to put them out, and it definitely pays off. I really look forward to getting the Tiger Print. I like to see what’s going down in our school, hearing people’s views on things and finding out about local stuff.”

Chittum said she thinks high school publications will always be cherished, despite the emergence of new technology.

“Yearbooks are a memento of high school,” she said. “Some people say that yearbooks will go away because of things like Facebook, but I don’t believe that. Who knows if we’ll still be watching TVs or DVDs in 15 years, but books won’t go away. They’ll be on the library shelves until the world ends.”