The San Diego Unified School District is the winner of the 23rd annual Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) and NSBA Award. The school district will be honored for its outstanding arts education programs at NSBA’s Annual Conference during the April 11 General Session.
The district was among school districts from across the country nominated by their State Alliances for Arts Education and State School Boards Associations for outstanding support of high-quality arts education.
A national review panel based their decision on several criteria, including district support for all four artistic disciplines–visual arts, music, theater, and dance–in arts education programs, widespread accessibility to instruction and programming, and collaborative partnerships formed with community cultural resources.
“We were impressed with how the school board increased access and the quality of arts education district-wide despite major funding cuts in the past few years,” said Susan Butler, who oversees the program for NSBA and convenes on the review panel. “The array of business and community partnerships, professional development opportunities for teachers, and the board’s advocacy and leadership in arts education is a model for other school districts to follow.”
Serving some 132,000 students, SDUSD is the second largest urban district in California and the 19th largest district in the nation. It offers a wealth of arts programs to all its students, including seven arts magnet schools.
What’s more, San Diego’s school board has consistently proven its support of the arts by making the financial and administrative commitments needed for a strong arts education program throughout all grade levels.
For instance, they have allocated five percent of the instructional budget to the arts programs, which helps support a visual and performing arts director, music program manager, grants coordinator teacher, curriculum and instruction support teacher, resource teachers in dance, theater, music and visual arts, and nearly 200 full-time arts teachers. And they’ve continued to maintain their support despite losing a quarter of their school funding over the past four years.
In addition, the board has created a learning environment where all students experience the arts, regardless of economic status. SDUSD does not allow student fees, instead working with local arts partners who donate supplies, materials, training, and provide access to community venues.
To enhance students arts experiences, those school sites without support groups receive funding when needed from the area superintendents budgets, grants, and the visual and performing arts department on a case-by-case basis.
Other finalists for this year’s award included:
- Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Annapolis, Md.;
- Appoquinimink School District, Odessa, Del.;
- Cedar Rapids Community School District, Cedar Rapids, Iowa;
- Fargo Public School District One, Fargo, N.D.;
- Florence Public School District One, Florence, S.C.;
- Jackson Public Schools, Jackson, Miss.;
- Memphis City Schools, Memphis Tenn.;
- Nebo School District, Spanish Fork, Utah;
- City School District of New Rochelle, N.Y.;
- Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, Neb.;
- The School District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Fla.;
- and Sioux Falls School District, Sioux Falls, S.D.