This letter was sent to Mayor Genser and members of the Santa Monica City Council
As you well know, fine arts programs in the school district are being dismantled. They have already lost $165,000 in funding for the year 1999-2000 and face a further cuts of teachers, aids, transportation, facilities, and the position of Fine Arts Coordinator. In addition, over the next five years, the risk of jeopardizing the future of one of the most highly regarded, inclusive programs in the district, is absolute.
The 52nd annual Stairway to the Stars program has already started to feel the effects and is facing serious repercussions due to the cuts that have already been made. General elementary music disappeared before its implementation in this years curriculum, after three years of lobbying from parents, teachers and the community, to increase arts programs.
Because of the dire need to preserve the arts in our school districts, I appeal to you to designate funds, specific to the funding of the arts, in your school budget. It is obvious that unless restricted funds are appropriated to the continued funding of the arts, the existing programs will rapidly deteriorate as further cuts are made.
Furthermore, the community at large has overwhelming expressed their desire to the city, to save the arts in the school district. They have also expressed their desire for you to appropriate city dollars that will be restricted to the continued funding of the arts. This request is being made in order to ensure that the district arts program will not be affected every time the district has a shortfall, something that has happened far too often to ignore.
The state and the nation acknowledged the necessity to restrict a majority of funds that go to public schools. They are aware of the budget process and how certain programs can slip through the cracks of the general fund and so they ensure their existences by restricting their funding. It’s that simple.
Let’s keep the politics out of this and just do what we need to do to save the arts in the school district. In this year’s budget, set aside restricted funds for the continued funding of the arts. I realize that council does not like to hold future councils to funding commitments, but, once in place, i believe that put to the vote, future councils will support the arts.
Donna Block, secretary, DAC on Fine Arts
Coalition for Music Education