Funding for arts, music education

The Simi Valley Integrated School District expects to receive $9.6 million from the state, with most of that funding allocated for arts and music education programs.

Last week, SVUSD trustees unanimously agreed to an interim plan to use funds from the state’s $3.5 billion Art, Music and Educational Discretionary Block grants.

Funding was allocated to school districts based on average daily attendance for grades K-12 for the 2021-22 school year. SVUSD said he will receive half of the funds in December 2022, and officials expect the other half to be available this spring.

On January 17, the school board of trustees discussed and approved the grant spending plan. But they also learned that funding from the grant could be cut by about $3.2 million if the state chooses to cut quotas in the coming months.

One-time Proposition 98 grants that must be spent by June 2026 can be used by school districts for arts and music learning tools, educational materials, and multilingual school library books.

Applications also include operational costs such as those related to retirement, healthcare, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

SVUSD will allocate approximately $3.8 million to arts and music education programs. This includes $500,000 in district-wide purchases of music equipment, $500,000 in art supplies, and approximately $2.8 million in theater and performance arts equipment.

Jerry Bullock, deputy director of educational services for the district, said facilities are particularly important because the local school has a new performing arts facility.

An additional $3 million from the grant will be used for district operating expenses, including medical and retirement benefits, and $1.5 million for professional development and educational materials.

About $1 million will be used to improve the “school atmosphere”. This includes training in de-escalation techniques, restorative justice (a non-punitive approach to managing conflict), media and digital literacy, physical education and learning through play.

“We’re updating the middle school computer lab, and we’re also updating the elementary and middle school maker spaces,” says Block.

An additional $150,000 will be spent on diverse and culturally relevant books for school libraries.

The district could end up receiving less than $9.6 million. That’s because Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed cutting his $1.2 billion in Proposition 98 grants to cover the $22.5 billion budget deficit.

In that case, the district could receive one-third of the expected total distribution.

“Whether it will come to fruition remains to be seen,” Bullock said.

On the positive side, the state passed Proposition 28 in November, so school districts get additional ongoing funding for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) activities. Block said the money would offset the same amount that could be cut from Proposition 98 funding.

Trustee Kareem Juvran said he hopes campuses that don’t get much PTA support will receive funding to buy instruments.

Board Chair Sophia Bagdasarian asked if it would be possible to fund much-needed anti-bullying programs, especially in secondary schools.

“It’s certainly possible.”

Block said. “This will be a living document so we can have an ongoing discussion if there are additional needs.”

District head Hani Youssef said a lot depends on the state’s budget and possible cuts.

“If there are real cuts, this should be fixed,” Youssef said.

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