A plan to add the arts as standards-based curriculum was unveiled in the Temecula Valley Unified School District Tuesday.
School board members heard a presentation from committee members who had worked months to create the Strategic Arts Education Plan.
“We’ll be one of the few districts in the region with such a plan,” said Jim Taylor, committee member and visual arts teacher at Chaparral High School.
According to the presentation, one in six jobs in the Los Angeles region are related to the creative economy. Students who graduate from Temecula schools would have an edge, 21st century skills would be cultivated and high-quality learning would take place, the committee said.
Committee members included teachers, administrators and community members, with representatives from the Temecula Valley Arts Council and Cal State San Bernardino. Developed in collaboration with the RIMS (Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino counties) California Art Project, it would explore community partnerships for bringing the arts in, as well as staff development on incorporating into daily curriculum.
Later on in the multi-phase plan, money would need to be set aside for program administration and personnel, and funding the various visual and performing arts programs that come as a result.
Taylor called attention to money from a 2008 arts block grant from Gov. Schwarzenegger that was not used to its full potential, and then eventually swept away.
“Some of that funding was moved out because we didn’t have a plan. Now we do,” he said.
To finalize the plan, Taylor worked with a sub-committee that included La Vorgna Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Michelle Dolias, Tony Tobin Elementary second-grade Teacher Lisa Lozosky and Gardner Middle School Visual Arts Teacher Robyn MacNair.
“The arts need an equal place at the table of our curriculum,” MacNair said.
“It is a lot more than funding. Students need a well-rounded education. Students can thrive in the arts, yet we’re taking them away. This reaches the whole child,” she said.
“We did design it so that when the money comes in, we know how to spend it.”
An official vote was not taken to adopt the plan. Board member Allen Pulsipher raised the question of how much it would cost the district to fund it, and asked to see amounts needed for each phase.
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Support Services Jodi McClay said some parts could be implemented immediately. The district would offer voluntary staff development sessions, she said.
McClay said staff development would be multi-faceted in that it addresses teachers at all levels, from those who currently have some resources and knowledge of the subject area to those who would be starting from the basics.
“The goal is to build awareness and give all students an advantage. It’s just as important as reading and writing,” she said.
Superintendent Tim Ritter recommended moving forward in the plan.
“This is one of the targets of our district,” Ritter said.
A vote to enact the plan is set for the next board meeting on Nov. 9, McClay said.
Board member Kristi Rutz-Robbins said it was very “doable.”
“I wholeheartedly support the committee. We have the right people in place,” Rutz-Robbins said.
“The arts are essential to a kid’s education. They are core. And the sooner we can implement it, the better.”
Maggie Avants is the education editor for SWRNN. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow SWRNNedu on Twitter!