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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Proposition 28 brings in over $140,000 to benefit school’s arts programs

Saachi Jain
How Proposition 28 funds will be distributed for the 2024-25 school year among the four departments.

Two years ago, California voters approved Proposition 28: The Arts and Music in Schools (AMS) Funding Guarantee and Accountability Act. This initiative provides supplemental funding for arts education in California K-12 public schools, in addition to Proposition 98, which established an annual minimum funding level for K-14 education back in 1988.

Approximately $938 million have been appropriated in the Budget Act toward the AMS program for the 2023–24 fiscal year. With funding allocated annually and based on the previous year’s enrollment — according to principal Greg Louie — the school received $141,898 based on the 2022-23 enrollment numbers. These funds are set to take effect next year, and will benefit the music, visual arts, media arts and drama departments.

With the use of AMS funds, there are four main restrictions that schools must follow in order to get Prop 28 funding. Allocations are required to supplement — not supplant — funding for the arts education programs; in other words, funds appropriated are required to increase funding for the programs and not replace existing expenditures. 

Louie said schools with over 500 students must use at least 80% of the Prop 28 funds to employ certificated or classified employees who provide arts education instruction. For SHS, roughly $125,000 of the $141,898 will be allocated toward this cause. As a result, payment for approximately 0.9 FTE (full-time equivalent) — a unit to measure the hours employees work per week — will be available for the arts departments to divide. Teaching five periods at SHS is considered to be of 1.0 FTE value, four periods is 0.8 FTE and so on. 

The remaining funds — roughly $17,000 for the school — must be used for training supplies, curriculum, professional learning, materials and arts educational partnership programs with no more than 1% of the funds received used for administrative expenses, including indirect costs to implement the program desired.

As funding is annual, schools have up to three fiscal years to spend an allocation. At the end of the third year, the amount of unexpended funds will be collected by the California Department of Education and allocated to other schools in the following fiscal year.

After receiving funding on Feb. 15 — since where and how these funds are distributed is determined by school administrators as stated by the requirements of the initiatives — Louie convened a Prop 28 committee consisting of teacher, parent and student representatives from the respective arts programs. 

Every department was tasked with proposing how they would potentially use the initiative funds to benefit and supplement their program, marking their ideas as Tier 1 — what they most desired — and Tier 2 recommendations. Based on each proposal, Louie then made the final decision as to how the Prop 28 funds will be balanced among the four arts departments. 

For the 2024-25 year, drama will introduce a section for the CBI (Community-Based Instruction) population that offers them more specialized instruction; this class will be blended with the general population, serving as Drama 1 for the next school year. This section, which is considered to be of 0.2 FTE value, will allow for more focused instruction at an introductory level, aiding confidence in the arts and encouraging speech development. The drama program was also approved for a Berkeley Representative workshop where students over seven class periods will be able to develop their theatrical skills with a professional in the arts.

The media arts department was approved to reintroduce and fund one section of Introduction to Digital Animation, a Visual Arts elective set to teach students 2D and 3D animation basics, pre and post production design and Wacom tablet use for animation. Along with this course, which is also considered to be of 0.2 FTE value, the purchase of the Wacom tablets will be paid for with Prop 28 funds.

The music department will use the Prop 28 funds to recruit a music coach with experience working with CBI students to attend every Freshman Symphonic Band class to offer stronger one-on-one help and instruction. Along with the CBI coach, a percussion coach will be funded to lead percussion students of all abilities and assist primarily the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

As for the visual arts, Prop 28 funds are approved to fund one section of Art 1 considered of 0.2 FTE value. 

“For this year, we collapsed Art 1 and Art 2, because the enrollment numbers [at SHS] are kind of low,” visual arts department chair Joel Tarbox said. “[Handling both levels at the same time] is a challenge because the Art 1 students need more attention and the Art 2 students are often ready to move on.”

With the section of Art 1 reintroduced for the following school year, Tarbox emphasizes how this focused attention will help students develop a stronger foundational skills, materials techniques and principles and elements of design. 

Along with Art 1, the department was also approved to fund an Open Studio teacher, considered of 0.1 FTE value. This will most likely be hosted by ceramics teacher Nikki Rodriguez school every other day and allow for all art students in both art and ceramics extra access and time to to work on their projects.

“[Open Studio] wasn’t something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Tarbox said. “But when the Prop 28 funds came up, I thought: ‘Well, here’s a good opportunity.’ Because students often want to do work outside of class, Open Studio is an opportunity to do just that and the teacher can also be compensated for putting in the extra time.”

A mat cutter was also approved with the remaining funds, and will be used to cut mats for displaying student artwork since their current one is broken and non-functional.

With the Prop 28 expenditure plan composed of proposals of all four departments, Louie submitted their request to district leadership for approval on May 10. The proposal was approved, with one amendment: The cost for the music coaches will be integrated as FTE costs. From there, the updated proposal will be submitted for board approval at the last Board of Trustees meeting on May 28.

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