State approves grant funding for visual performing arts education programs – The Campanile – cialisdfr
State approves grant funding for visual performing arts education programs – The Campanile
State approves grant funding for visual performing arts education programs – The Campanile

The California Department of Education is allocating $1 billion to visual and performing arts programs across the state. The funding aims to increase arts education in low-income areas and create more equitable programs across the state for students with little exposure to the arts.

Voters approved arts funding in Proposition 28 by 64.4%, the largest success of an education initiative in California history. The grant, which comes from the state’s General Fund — a pool of unearmarked revenue money — is split. 70% of them will go to schools based on their share of statewide enrollment, while the other 30% will go to schools based on their number of low-income students.

Within this division, PAUSD receives $1,239,309 in advance funding for arts and music in schools from Proposition 28 that has not yet been distributed to schools.

However, districts with more than 500 students must allocate 80% of funding to staff and 20% to materials.

In addition, the funds should complement, not replace, current programs.

In response to The Campanile’s public records request, PAUSD declined to disclose preliminary school site staffing and spending plans for using Proposition 28 funding in the 2024-25 school year, citing that no funds have been spent on supplies or materials, as CDE has not yet published reporting guidelines.

Theater teacher Sarah Thurmond said the grant allows the theater program to experiment with different crafts by bringing in professionals to teach and direct.

“We could use that funding to bring in someone with subject matter expertise to help support us on a show,” Thurmond said. “For example, if we’re working on a content production where we want to bring in an expert, or we’re dealing with adding screenings to some of our shows, they could come in and do that.”

Junior Polina van Hulsen, who is taking AP Art Studio and Design, said she would like digital art to be included in general art classes.

“We currently have access to digital iPads, but it could be interesting to focus more on digital art and Photoshop courses included in one of the main pathways,” van Hulsen said.

In an email response to The Campanile, Amanda Bark, PAUSD district office policy and compliance manager, said middle school music and drama teachers who put on two extracurricular productions/performances per semester will receive a $2,095 stipend per year from the funds under proposal 28 in the academic year 2023-2024.

Additionally, PAUSD VAPA Director Kelly Martin wrote in an email response to The Campanile that PAUSD has identified specific needs within the district’s arts programs for the 2023-24 school year. Previous grant funds were spent on recruiting in areas based on of students’ choice in middle and high schools, if it were possible to add a new section without replacing the current courses. Additional Spectra Art and Music classes were added in K-5 schools.

Thurmond also said the money could be used to hire experts who have experience in multicultural theater to broaden students’ perspectives on the arts.

“If I wanted to teach students about a form of theater from a country that’s not my country of origin and that I didn’t study in college, I could use that money to find someone who could bring that experience,” Thurmond said . “The money to hire outside people sometimes feels like one of the barriers to doing this work, so I’m excited that there’s now a funding source that seems (to be) set up to bring in those voices and experts.”

Thurmond said the additional funding would primarily benefit lower-income districts, as only one in five California high schools lacks a full-time art or music teacher, according to an EdSource interview with Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner.

“For some schools, the difference will really be whether there are after-school programs,” Thurmond said. “This really excited theater teachers (Proposition 28) because we all want every child to have access to (theater).”

Van Hulsen said funding the arts programs provides students with a chance to develop a creative outlet that is limited in other classes.

“For creative minds like myself, (art programs) are a really good creative outlet for self-expression,” van Hulsen said. “It’s extremely important to have that ability to express yourself. I feel that most of the time we are too busy with other work in class to have the opportunity to still be in the school environment and express ourselves creatively.’

Thurmond said the funding is a sign of support for the arts regardless of their distribution in the district.

“There’s also this nice vote of confidence that the state’s voters want to see more arts in schools,” Thurmond said. “When you’re a teacher of choice, you often feel like you’re struggling to hold onto your program to prove that it’s relevant and that it’s useful. A new funding source like this coming in to give added vitality (gives) the sense that the people of California want their public schools to have arts programs.”

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