Arts education, an instruction area that has struggled to regain funding after the recession, ranks among the winners in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $8 billion draft budget for the next school year released this week.
More than $6 million additional dollars would be designated for the arts under LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines' financial plan. If approved by the school board, the additional funding would go toward additions like hiring art teachers, buying new instruments and professional development.
With the economy recovering, California schools are receiving hundreds of millions more in funding from the state. A major portion of the additional dollars under Gov. Jerry Brown's local control funding formula will go to programs targeting students with high needs — those in foster care, in low-income families or building their English language skills.
"We're seeing this year an even greater investment in the arts," said Cristina Pacheco, advocacy manager with Arts for LA. "There's a coming together of a variety of resources."
Pacheco said she's seen increased support building around arts education in the district, both in the form of district funding and help from community partners.
Pacheco said the new funding strategy is based in part on findings from the district's Arts Equity Index— a principal survey released in March that found broad gaps in access to arts instruction.
"There have been students in the district inequitably served through the arts and now we're going to see an alignment and investment based on this great tool," she said.
The new budget also indicates the arts will be used to help elementary students with skills like reading. This integration strategy is aligned with the new learning standards known as the Common Core that emphasizes concepts like critical thinking and problem-solving.
On Tuesday, the school board will hear public comments on the budget plan. The school board is then scheduled to vote on the budget on June 23.