DC Arts Based School Fight Budget Cuts

We’ve recently shared news of a Boston area school that has seen a tremendous turnaround in student achievement since its arts based curriculum and program was revived by an inspirational principal. Unfortunately, such news has been rare in most school districts, as budget shortfalls have seen drastic cuts for arts-based programs and schools. The Fillmore Arts Center, a K-8 school devoted specifically to the arts in Washington, D.C., is the latest in a string of arts programs making staff and educational cuts as funding decreases.

Facing $300,000 in cuts for next year’s budget, the Center has been forced to make several full time positions into part-time, much to the ire of parents and supporters of the school who are concerned about the quality and future of the program. In an effort to bring attention to the Center’s financial plight, parents have started an online petition urging DC’s schools chancellor Kaya Henderson to restore the $300,000. DC’s School Board argues the cuts to the Center are based on decreasing enrollment. The Center currently serves 3,000 students at 11 schools across the DC area. Next year, it is set to serve only eight schools and 500 fewer students.

However, parents argue the cuts are a primary result of a new DC schools mandate that requires all elementary school students to take at least 45-minutes of a foreign language class everyday. Since participating schools in the Center have less money to fulfill this mandate, they’ve cut into the budget for the arts. The DC board is set to vote on a final budget by the end of the month though there seems little chance the petition will lead to a restoration of the $300,000 for the Center.