Editor’s note: This letter by Superintendent William Schofield is in response to a letter written by Charlotte Arsenault.
I am proud that the Hall County School District spends between $8 million and $9 million per year on salaries for almost 100 teachers in all 37 of our schools that teach visual and performing arts. We are completing our fourth new performing arts center at a cost of over $43 million. During the Great Recession, we refused to reduce our fine arts programs. Our board of education has the option to spend fine arts allotments in other areas, but we don’t do this, because we believe in the transformational impact of fine arts.
Yes, HCSD is investing $8 to $9 million in a meat processing plant. The funding comes from $4 million of COVID Relief dollars, $2.5 million of special grant state dollars and $2 million of reserve funding (savings) from our school food service department. It will generate annual income; deliver beef and pork for our 20,000 meals per day in the district lunchrooms; provide students career pathways; and give our community a reliable source of locally processed protein. Currently, four multinational companies process 85% of the feedlot beef in this country. Two of them are Brazilian-based. This investment provides myriad benefits for our community and potentially is a model for our state and nation.
Compared to our 90-plus fine arts teachers, we have five agriculture teachers in the entire district. As for the artificial turf at our high schools, the fields cost approximately $8 million and allows those central facilities to be used 24/7/365 by over 14,000 students in our middle and high school programs. The district has purchased no jumbo scoreboards. Any such niceties have been provided by local donors that we greatly appreciate.
We believe in the ongoing importance of engaging our students in their school activities and sports. We carefully consider what resources can best serve our students in agricultural and other career pathways. And we will continue to prioritize the fine arts with passionate teachers, arts centers, funding, resources, and recognition, knowing how fine arts can inspire our students for a lifetime.
Hall County Schools Superintendent William Schofield