HomeCommunity NewsLCUSD Allocates $1.67M to Arts, Music Programs

LCUSD Allocates $1.67M to Arts, Music Programs

First published in the Dec. 1 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The Governing Board recently made a lot of families happy with the approval of a plan to use a lion’s share of grant money from the state to fund the La Cañada Unified School District’s music and arts programs.
With a record budget and surplus for California in the 2022-23 fiscal year, schools received more funding than ever before as well as grant money.
One of the one-time funds was the Arts, Music and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant, which provided LCUSD with $2,527,692 that could be used on essentially anything despite the title of the grant.
The district will spend $1,668,277 of the grant money on the choral department, visual arts, band and orchestra, theater department and facility upgrades. The remaining funds will be used on safety and security expenses, deferred maintenance, instructional materials, technology equipment and furniture.
Board members previously discussed the spending of the funds at a September meeting and advised district staff to meet with teachers and parent volunteers to determine the most dire needs for the arts and music programs. The district had previously hoped to use some of the grant money to offset the costs of deferred maintenance and pay some of the rising pension costs, but stakeholders felt that given the grant’s title, the funds should be distributed among the arts and music programs.
Various parent volunteer groups raise money for the LCUSD arts and music programs that help pay for equipment and field trips. The additional funds from the state and commitment from the district alleviate some of the pressure on the parents, but a volunteer assured the board that the groups will continue to work on raising money for the arts.
“We’re not going to stop fundraising,” said Wayne Page, a La Cañada Music Parents Association board member. “Instead of half of the kids being able to afford to go to Carnegie Hall, we’re going to try to get all of them to go. We’re going to do scholarships. We’re going to lower costs.”
Board Vice President Joe Radabaugh said he was gratified to see most of the funds go to the district’s beloved arts and music programs.
“I think this demonstrates that we were listening to the parents when it was brought to our attention about the grant,” he said. “By my estimate, we’re probably close to 68% [of the grant money being used for arts and music] when it was much lower than that [previously]. I’m pleased with where we are in terms of being able to truly prioritize the music and the arts and everything else in this space. I think we came a long way in this.”
Board President Dan Jeffries echoed his colleague, saying LCUSD’s decision to use most of the money for the “world-class arts and music programs” shows “how important they are to our district.”
Those programs are set to receive even more money in the next fiscal year with the passing of Proposition 28. Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of the measure that will provide additional funding for visual and performing arts. Melissa Greenwood, LCUSD assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, estimates that the district will receive about $670,000 in Prop 28 funds.
The district allocated $1.94 million of the general fund toward arts and music in the 2022-23 fiscal year, most of which is used to pay for teacher salaries.


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