Dewan: More arts funding coming to California public schools
Lincoln High School in San Jose is a part of the San Jose Unified School District. File photo.

    Only about one in five California public schools have a full-time arts or music program, and these programs are typically the first to be reduced from school budgets during economic downturns. Prop. 28, the Arts and Music in Schools Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act, is poised to change that.

    Beginning next year, the state will be required to provide additional funding to increase arts instruction and/or arts programs in public schools.

    The arts promote learning and engagement, and have positive effects on student learning by advancing and applying literacy, math and critical thinking skills. Frontiers in Neuroscience conducted research that demonstrates a connection between learning music to improve language and reading abilities. Arts education promotes integrated learning and addressing subject area-specific standards in mathematics, history, language, culture and science.

    Prop. 28 enjoyed a high level of support from California voters and will provide more than $800 million each year to public schools from the state’s general fund. These funds will be restricted to arts and music education in pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade public schools, including charter schools, to ensure every student has access to arts and music education. Schools are also required to verify that the funds were spent in addition to any existing funding already used or budgeted for arts education programs.

    The additional funding to public schools will be distributed based upon enrollment in preschool and transitional kindergarten through grade 12. Of the total amount, 70% will be allocated to schools based on their percentage share of the overall statewide enrollment. The remaining 30% will go to schools based on a proportion of low-income students.

    Once the funds are allocated to the school districts, they can use up to 1% to cover administrative expenses, while the remainder of the funding must be distributed to all school sites within the district based on student enrollment. School districts and charter schools with more than 500 students must use at least 80% of the additional funding to hire staff. The remaining funding can be used for training, supplies and materials, and for arts educational partnership programs.

    Site principals or the program director of a preschool will need to develop an arts spending plan. The principal or program director will determine how to expand a site’s arts instruction and/or programs. School boards will post a report on how funds were spent on their websites. The report will describe the type of arts education programs funded, the number of staff  employed, the number of students served and the number of school sites providing arts education with the funding received.

    Arts education programs include a variety of subjects such as media arts, music, theater, visual art, photography, crafts, computer coding, painting animation, costume design, graphic design and film. California’s arts and music education requirements vary by grade level. Schools with students in grades first through sixth provide instruction in the subjects of dance, music,  theater and visual arts aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of  creative expression. Middle and high schools must offer courses in dance, music, theater and visual arts.

    San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

    Comment Policy (updated 11/1/2021): We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by administrators.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.