In response to a yesterday’s Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) School Board decision to work towards continued delivery of district-wide elementary arts education programs provided by P.S. ARTS despite funding challenges, P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia released the following statement:
“I am inspired by the SMMUSD School Board’s deep commitment to educational equity. I’d like to extend my personal thanks to the board members that opposed cuts to the arts programs in SMMUSD and to Board President Laurie Lieberman for encouraging the SMMUSD community to unite in finding another way to close the District’s funding gap. This is leadership at its very best. P.S. ARTS whole-heartedly agrees that every child in SMMUSD, and everywhere, deserves the best chance at a prosperous, fulfilling future. We are proud to be a part of ensuring educational equity in SMMUSD by providing every school with a rigorous arts program that fosters the creativity and humanity that students need in order to thrive in school and life.”
P.S. ARTS Program Manager Lora Cawelti adds:
“The P.S. ARTS faculty and I are continually inspired by the creativity and artistic bravery of the students in SMMUSD. It is a great pleasure to work in a district that values both the arts and the importance of equity and access for all students. We are so grateful for the hard work that SMMEF and parents contribute in order to keep arts programming in SMMUSD schools, and I look forward to another year of excellence in visual arts, theater, and music.”
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Excerpt from Malibu Surfside News article by Alex Vejar
“The Santa Monica-Malibu School Board on Thursday, June 2, took no action on a suggestion that would make up for a potential Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation fundraising shortfall.
In an update to SMMEF’s fundraising goals for this fiscal year, Terry Deloria, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, told the Board that as of May 23, it was staring at a fundraising gap of almost $500,000. If the Board wanted to fully fund all the SMMEF programs, Deloria said, it would need to find a way to raise that amount.
But if for some reason that money could not be raised by June 30 — the end of the fiscal year — Deloria gave the Board three suggestions on how to close the fundraising gap: a $300,000 supplemental grant to offset the cost of instructional assistants, a reduction of P.S. ARTS programs from 30 weeks to 20 weeks, and a reallocation of any stretch grants carried over from 2016-17 into 2017-18 programs.
The Board agreed with the supplemental grant and the reallocation of stretch grants. But a few members were vehemently opposed to cutting P.S. ARTS, the nonprofit organization SMMEF contracts for art in all of the District’s elementary schools. Cutting the arts program would save about $200,000, according to Deloria’s presentation.
Board members Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Craig Foster, a Malibu resident, said they would not vote for that particular cut.
“I think that the value of the programs and the value of the future of centralized fundraising is far more important than $200,000,” Foster said.
Board president Laurie Lieberman suggested that the Board figure out another way to raise the $200,000 it would save by cutting the P.S. ARTS programs.”