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LAUSD Cuts Start With the Arts

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California school kids are going to see cuts in their arts programs

Kids in a California school perform Peter Pan | Photo by brokenchopstick via Flickr

The Los Angeles Unified School District has initiated a spending freeze, thanks in part to the possibility of having to cut $400 million in spending mid-year, after already being crippled by $400 million in budget cuts this year. Their first major move has been to put one of their biggest arts programs in a holding pattern. The LA Times reports:

In a Dec. 12 e-mail, district administrators told arts instructors with the Arts Community Partnership Network to cancel all work immediately and that payments might be delayed, though work could begin again next month if the state resolves its budget crisis.
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The move is indicative of troubles state-wide in school districts thanks to the cuts proposed in the California budget, which remains unresolved. Arts programs tend to be the first affected, which worries top education officials such as state Superintendent Jack O'Connell, who believes arts and after school programs help keep kids motivated and involved in education. The Times details some specific programs that are in jeopardy because they are already operating on limited resources, and have nowhere else to turn for funding, particularly when charitable foundations are offering less assistance due to their own financial woes.Other significant changes could be on the horizon within the LAUSD and their programs, "which could mean increasing class sizes, laying off teachers or providing fewer meals at schools." Although Los Angeles passed the pricey Measure Q on the November ballot, which is to fund the construction of new schools, the reality is that there isn't much good in building a new school if the district cannot hire any teachers or employees to staff it.

One fear circulating right now within the hurting arts programs is that this stall is just a layover on the way to disappearing altogether because "if enough small arts groups have to close their doors or lay off staff, it will be difficult to restart the arts program when the district again has enough funding."