In the last five years, funding for arts education at L.A. Unified has dropped from a budgeted high of $78.6 million to $18.6 million.
The 76 percent drop in funding equates to about $60 million, and is the result of a dramatic decrease in state support and the district's need to constrict its budget in response.
With a greater awareness for the importance of arts education today, LAUSD hasn't singled out the arts for cuts as much as before, but still cuts have happened amid the economic downturn.
"When things start getting cut, legal mandates win, and other things fall to the wayside," said L.A. Unified senior arts coordinator Steven McCarthy. He's now the only staffer of the school district's "arts education branch," which used to include about 20 people.
On Tuesday, the L.A. Unified school board unanimously approved a measure that will make arts education a "core subject," prohibit further cuts to the arts, and ultimately restore some money to arts programs.
The measure requires a restoration of arts education funds to the 2007-08 funding levels within five years.
How exactly the district will pay for this will be something Supertinendent John Deasy must present to the board by July 1. But a new campaign by the LA Fund for Public Education will probably help.