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Elementary school arts program to be partially restored in L.A. Unified

June 22, 2010 |  8:21 am

Los Angeles Unified School District officials are expected to restore $5 million to elementary arts programs that were cut in half as part of efforts to balance next year’s budget, The Times has learned.


The restoration comes amid ongoing pressure from arts groups and powerful local philanthropists to spare the programs, but Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said his decision was unrelated to these entreaties.


The programs are not being made entirely whole, he added. They will be reduced by about one-third from current levels. The increase in funding is likely to spare the jobs of some teachers who otherwise would be laid off.


Cortines said he made the move because recent financial projections regarding this year’s $640-million deficit proved slightly better than expected. As a result, no other service is being trimmed further to permit added arts funding in L.A. Unified.


“I felt I had to do something about restoring some of the arts,” he said. “That is what keeps kids in school.”


However, the superintendent warned that the governor’s proposed budget could add a new “$85-million hit” to the district’s budget.


Arts patrons and organizations have been applying pressure for the restoration of arts programs; their campaign included a full-page ad last week in The Times.


That advertisement angered school board Steve Zimmer, among others, in that it appeared nine days after the school system failed to pass Measure E, a parcel tax that could have fully restored elementary arts education. Zimmer was among those who campaigned for the parcel tax, but Measure E captured little support and minimal funding from many civic leaders, including some who signed the ad.


-- Howard Blume