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Frustrated LA school board members' message to administrators: Provide detailed arts budget

Mary Plummer | May 28th, 2014, 3:58pm

Mary Plummer

 

School board members Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff during an April 29, 2014 school board committee meeting.

Los Angeles Unified School board members on Tuesday repeatedly called for more information on how administrators are providing arts education, saying they've been largely shut out for months.

"This is a point of ongoing concern and frustration," board member Steve Zimmer said during a curriculum committee meeting in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday. "We remain right where we were almost a year ago now." 

Board member Monica Ratliff, who heads the committee, said she won't vote on Superintendent John Deasy's proposed 2014-15 budget until administrators provide a detailed budget showing how they'll expanded access to the arts.

RELATED: New proposal for LA schools reduces arts exposure time to serve more students

A detailed budget was initially due when the district's new arts plan was released last summer, to show how administrators would meet an October 2012 school board decision to make the arts a core subject and drastically increase access.

In February, district officials presented a budget outline that would increase funding by nearly $16 million in the next three years — but most of new funds were budgeted for "arts integration" for classroom teachers. It didn't address how the district would expand arts classes.

Ratliff requested an expanded budget again during an April 29 committee meeting. It was due Tuesday. School administrators failed to deliver it.

"I was disappointed," Ratliff said. 

None of the district's arts education staff spoke during the public meeting. Gerardo Loera, executive director of the school system's office of curriculum and instruction, responded to board members' questions.

Some of those questions involved the elementary school orchestra program. Back and forth changes over the past few months have created lots of confusion at schools.

Some that have had a successful orchestra program for many years reported losing it for the upcoming school year because the new form the district required them to fill out didn't make it clear the central office would pay for the classes. 

Administrators handed out a list of 165 elementary schools scheduled to get instrumental music classes next year. (Check list below to see if your school is included).

But Loera said he didn't know whether schools that want orchestra and aren't on the list might still be able to get it.

"That's something we can definitely research and get back to you," he said.

Ratliff also asked Loera to dig up a staffing list for the arts branch, a breakdown of which schools are paying for their own arts teachers, which get them from the district — and which get none at all.

Without those details, she said, the board can't make informed decisions on the Superintendent's budget proposals.

"This is not about an interest group," Zimmer told Loera as questions piled on, "this is about equitable access to arts education for our kids."

He asked Loera take a message to the administration: the board needs more transparency from administrators so it can craft policies that provide arts access to students who need it the most.

DOCUMENT: Check to see if your elementary school will get orchestra next year

 

Former LAUSD Elementary Music Teacher is Founder of Children's Music Workshop: Offers an affordable alternative to district program cuts

Children's Music Workshop founded by former LAUSD elementary orchestra teacher Larry Newman, is an Emmy award winning music education company which specializes in a variety of products and services including custom designed band and orchestra method books, school site music instruction, music education advocacy and more.

Instruction is offered before school, during the school day and after school - depending on the needs of each individual school.

Children's Music Workshop administers every aspect of the instrumental music program including student recruitment and enrollment, instrument sales and rentals, music selection and distribution, weekly or bi-weekly instruction and all recital and concert performances.

Top school administrators all agree - outsourcing is an excellent way for schools to provide students with a high quality music program in financially challenging times.

And often the first casualties to budget cuts are music programs.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. By outsourcing music instruction, many schools are saving money and resources while still offering students a well-rounded education that includes music.

Children’s Music Workshop is the company more Los Angeles area public and private schools turn to for quality, on-site music instruction.

Founded nearly thirty years ago by Larry Newman, CMW presently coordinates music programs in more than two dozen of the top Los Angeles area public and private schools. And CMW teachers are among the finest music educators to be found anywhere in the country.

Children’s Music Workshop contributes more than $25,000 each year in scholarship assistance and free instrument rentals to economically-disadvantaged students in our local public schools.

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Experts have proven that music education not only enhances a child's academic performance in math and science, it also engenders teamwork, communication and other social skills that are critical to success as an adult.

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It is our goal to help put music education back where it belongs — in the curricula of our public and private schools — by providing a high quality, integrated, flexible and affordable music education program for all students.

Please email us to find out how your school can offer music instruction to your students through Children's Music Workshop.


 

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