BSA Students Push for More Funding of Bare Necessity Art Materials and Custodial Services

Archive, School News, School Year 2021-22

By: Quinn Bryant

As the school year is nearing the end, the Administration has been beginning to plan for next year. A crucial part of the planning process is determining the schools budget for the 2022-2023 school year. The Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) is nearing the ending stages of finalizing its budget for next year. 

The budget planning process is as follows. First, Rosiland Cauthen, Executive Director of BSA, looked at budget projections from previous years as well as the amount of money Baltimore City Public Schools will give to BSA. The district’s funding accounts for  approximately 60 percent of BSA’s overall operating budget.

Next, according to Nancy Steiner, Chief Financial Officer for the BSA Foundation, each art department gives a wish list of what they would love to have. 

During the school year there were also meetings with parents, staff, and students to discuss budgeting. During the budgeting process there are three open meetings: one in December, one in February, and one in March. However, according to Cauthen, the student body was only made aware of the last budget meeting.

Cauthen also conducted group meetings with smaller departments in the school. For example, “I had a meeting with the Spanish department to hear what the Spanish teachers feel they really need”, Cauthen said.

According to Steiner, Cauthen must also announce if she has a big initiative for next year that the budget will need to cover. “This year the initiative was Diversity Equity and Inclusion”, said Steiner. After all of this information is put together, a final draft of the budget is sent to the BSA Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee to approve the budget. 

There are three main parts to the budgeting system at BSA: fair student funding, memorandum of understanding, and the BSA Foundation. 

Fair student funding is what funds the district supplies and is based on student population projection. This school year we have 427 students; the projection for next year is 430 students. If BSA does not meet its enrollment projection, Baltimore City will deduct a certain amount of money based on fair student funding calculations. According to Cauthen, it can be problematic for a small school because the fewer students you have the less amount of money you get. 

“We have to make this decision. Are we okay with a small school size and having the budget we have, or do we want to expand the budget and therefore accept more students? I am more in favor of letting our budget stay the way it is and keeping our student numbers as is because it makes up the fabric of who we are at BSA,” said Cauthen. 

The Memorandum of Understanding is the Baltimore City Public School System’s (BCPSS) grant money that supplies partial funding for part-time art teachers for the high school and the TWIGS program. 

Lastly, the BSA Foundation, which raises about 40 percent of BSA’s overall budget, is, as Stiener puts it, “what allows BSA to be an art school.” The foundation covers the additional cost to pay part-time art teachers; technology and classroom materials; TWIGS and outreach costs; master classes and cultural experiences; productions and exhibitions; communication; summer academic assistance; junior summer scholarships; audition/recruitment; community initiatives; security and custodial support; and college scholarships and awards. 

According to a survey, 68.8 percent of the 16 students polled would prioritize funding for equipment and supplies in art classes , 56.3  percent would prioritize funding custodial services, and 62.6 percent would give funding for part-time teachers a high priority. 

BSA is in the process of hiring part-time teachers for health/PE, computer science, special education, and Spanish, as well as a full-time librarian/media specialist (this year the librarian was a part-time position).

Teachers have multiple opportunities to voice where funding is needed. According to Cauthen, academic teachers requested for each room to have synced-up digital clocks and give all rooms equal standards. 

According to the The Muse survey, students, on the other hand, hope to get funding for art materials, such as updated paint and easels.

Junior Musician Zavion Barbour said that he thinks more music stands, more instruments, and also more music accessories need to be supplied.

Sophomore SDP Student Zachiah Zook said, respective “Stage Design and Production needs more measuring tapes. It’s a small thing, but we can not build anything without them, and we waste precious time looking for them.” Nine out of the 16 students surveyed feel their department is not getting enough funding.

Students feel that some things are being funded appropriately. In the survey, Freshman Dancer London Connolly stated that she likes having the ability to have guest choreographers. Additionally, Senior Musician Jaxyn Corcoran likes having masks for specific instruments.

In terms of the overall school budget, Sophomore Actor Aminah Ebron believes that the cafeteria, the bathrooms, and renovating the school and its spaces as a whole should get more funding, as well as working to make the school more accessible by adding automatic doors, another elevator, and other accommodations.

One senior film student wrote that they wished more funds were going towards academics. They said, “It’s ridiculous that arts get so much money but academic teachers have to buy stuff themselves.”

As the BSA budget hopes to envision a better school for its students, sophomore visual artist claims that the administration should ensure that every department is appreciated for what it does, by staff and students. 

To contact this writer, email Muse Newspaper at