Signaling a lack of support for arts education and furthering the squeeze on five of the best, yet most over-crowded, schools in the city, DCPS is trying to close Fillmore Art Center. In its proposed budget for for the 2016/17 school year, DCPS has cut funding for the center, which provides music, drama and arts education to 1,700 DCPS students from Key, Ross, Marie Reed, Hyde-Addison, and Stoddert.
Students from our five schools attend Fillmore to receive valuable, enriching arts education that would not be possible within the individual schools. Each of the schools is currently over capacity and/or in transition without permanent space. Fillmore provides an off-site dedicated location for arts education and allows the schools to pool their resources, ensuring high-quality arts programming that simply could not be replicated within each school.
During a conference call last week, DCPS Chief Operating Officer Dr. Nathaniel Beers and DCPS Chief of Schools John Davis alerted the five school principals that DCPS would not provide any financial support for Fillmore in the 2016/17 school year.
Under the DCPS proposed zero-budget for Fillmore, art education would be forced within each school where valuable and substantive art instruction like sculpture, computer animation, digital arts, pottery, environmental design, theater, band, strings, keyboards, guitar, and dance are all impossible. Students would be left with very limited “art on a cart”-type education. The five schools do not have space for art education, and limited individual funding for arts supplies. The five principals do not support DCPS’ budget action and would prefer arts education to remain at Fillmore.
What Can I Do?
The Friends of Fillmore ask you to take action. Let the decision makers at DCPS and within the DC city government know that you demand practical, affordable, quality arts education for your children. If we do not let DCPS and our city officials know of our support for Fillmore, arts education in the five elementary schools will be gone.
Here are 10 easy things that you can to do to restore Fillmore’s funding for next year:
- Tell Chancellor Kaya Henderson to fund Fillmore. firstname.lastname@example.org; @HendersonKaya.
- Tell the DCPS Chief of Schools, John Davis, that you don’t want to lose Fillmore. email@example.com; @johndavisdc.
- Tell Nathaniel Beers, DCPS Chief Operating Officer, to work with the budget to keep Fillmore open. firstname.lastname@example.org; @nbbeers.
- Email and tweet Ward 1 City Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau and tell her that DCPS is threatening arts education in her ward. email@example.com; @BrianneKNadeau.
- Email and tweet Ward 2 City Councilman Jack Evans, DC city councilman and tell him that DCPS is threatening arts education in his ward. firstname.lastname@example.org; @jackevansward2.
- Email and tweet Ward 3 City Councilwoman Mary Cheh and tell her that DCPS is threatening arts education in her ward. email@example.com; @marycheh.
- Tell your school’s teachers and principal you want DCPS to continue to fund Fillmore.
- Post on social media that DCPS is underfunding arts education for its students, including @friendsoffillmore, #FundFillmore.
- Connect with the Washington media and tell them that saving effective and affordable arts education is an important story. Some twitter feeds include: @nbcwashington; @fox5newsdc; @abc7news; @wusa9; @wamu885news.
- You can also come to The Friends of Fillmore meeting at the Georgetown Library this Tuesday night, February 23 from 7-8, in the Lower Level Meeting Room. Please join us.
What Does Fillmore’s Budget Look Like?
This year, the operating budget for Fillmore is $1.6 million.
Each of the five participating schools contribute from their staff to Fillmore to the art and music teaching positions. Those are the nine full-time and three part-time teachers at Fillmore. Those 12 positions comprise just under $1 million of Fillmore’s budget.
Under DCPS’ current plans, the five schools would retain those two teaching positions within each school’s budget. The schools would then need to implement arts and music instruction in whatever space they can find, with whatever supplies they can afford.
The rest of the operating budget for Fillmore is provided by DCPS. That includes the salary for the Director and three other staff positions and supplies. The total for staff and supplies is approximately $600,000.
More details on upcoming important events, FAQ, and what you can do will be posted here.