Residents of California and the Woods will soon vote on a measure that would secure additional funding for arts and music in schools.
Local school boards largely decide how to spend the funds allocated each year. The first programs to suffer cuts are often the arts and music programs.
If passed, Proposition 28 will guarantee the equivalent of at least 1% of Proposition 98 funding for K-12 schools be specifically dedicated to arts and education. Eighty percent of the funds would go to hiring staff, with disadvantaged and underfunded schools receiving the biggest boost.
Former Los Angeles School District Superintendent Austin Beutner, who supports Proposition 28, said only one in five California students had access to a permanent arts or music program.
“Every student should have the chance to participate,” Beutner said. “It gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of well-being, a chance to use their voice and agency and express themselves.”
For Woodland residents, the proposal could have a big impact on the local arts and music scene, such as the Woodland Opera House, which would benefit from the funding since many of their students and performers come from local public schools.
Angela Baltezore, executive director of the Woodland Opera House, said strong arts and music programs in public schools would have a snowball effect on the development of the local creative community.
“When schools have a healthy arts program, it nurtures the community of actors, musicians and patrons,” Baltezore said. “It reinforces the support for the whole artistic community”
No one has officially come forward to oppose Proposition 28 in California’s voter guide. For this reason, campaigning for the measure is rare.
This led to a lack of public knowledge about the proposal. Jerry Jimenez, public information officer for the Woodland Joint Unified School District, declined to comment, saying the school district was not sufficiently briefed on the proposal.
Some Woodland residents also said they hadn’t heard much about the proposal.
“I’m a big fan of the arts in general, so that seems pretty reasonable,” Woodland resident Christian Jardine said. “I would need to read everything before blowing bubbles in anything when I vote.”
Despite the absence of formal opposition on the ballot, some have clearly come out against it. One of the most notable is Lance Christensen, who is running for a statewide Superintendent of Public Instruction position.
Christensen said people sympathize with Proposition 28 on an emotional level and can justify voting with their hearts because the proposal doesn’t raise taxes.
He fights this argument, noting that Proposition 28 uses money from the general fund. Allocating parts of this fund to arts and music means that less money can be allocated to other issues also supported by the general fund.
“The question is, are you removing local control from school districts?” Christensen said. “Are you mandating something that they can’t accomplish or accomplish? Are you financially creating secondary or tertiary effects for school districts that you can account for? Are you creating other problems in the budget that you haven’t thought of?
Woodland Opera House educational director Andrea St. Clair said the impact on students is what’s really important. St Clair says the availability of resources and programs is crucial for students, not only from a creative standpoint, but also for overall student development.
“All of these programs help improve English skills, math skills, and science skills,” St. Clair said. “If we can continue to fund arts education, we will see growth in other subjects in schools.”
By Isaac Streeter and Michael Pacheco
This story is part of a collaborative project between the Woodland Daily Democrat and the seniors of the Sacramento State Journalism Program. For more information, visit facebook.com/sacstatejournalism.