The School Board of Palm Beach County, Fla. received the 24th annual Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) and National School Boards Association (NSBA) Award on April 23 at NSBA’s Annual Conference in Boston.
This national award, which was created in 1989 and includes a $10,000 prize, recognizes school boards for their support of arts education.
According to the Kennedy Center, the School Board of Palm Beach County was honored because it strives to provide a world-class arts education for each of its 172,000 students, using funding from community partners, grants, individual fundraising, and the school board.
In 2005, the School Board of Palm Beach County established an Arts Education Task Force that developed an arts business plan, which calls for the district to develop partnerships with cultural organizations. The district has used these opportunities for professional development, artist residencies, and curriculum collaborations.
The school board also gave funding for the district’s fine arts teachers to develop lesson plans based on the new standards in visual arts, theater, dance, and music. Hundreds of these arts-related lesson plans are uploaded to an online repository, making them available to all the district’s teachers.
Although the region faced a declining economy, the School Board of Palm Beach County not only kept all existing arts programs in place, but pushed a tax referendum to secure all art and music teacher positions in the county. The school board plans to use the award money to expand dance education and string education programs across the district.
Darrell Ayers, vice president of education and jazz at the Kennedy Center, presented the award. “The School Board of Palm Beach County’s belief in and commitment to the arts in education is undeniable,” he said. “It is clear they will continue to serve as ambassadors for arts advocacy in their state for years to come.”
Each year, school boards are nominated by State Alliances for Arts Education and State School Boards Associations. Finalists for the 2012 award include: Anne Arundel County Public Schools Board of Education, Annapolis, Md.; Caddo Parish School Board, Shreveport, La.; Durham Public Schools School Board, Durham, N.C.; Fort Worth Independent School District Board of Education, Fort Worth, Texas; Kodiak Island Borough School District Board of Education, Kodiak, Alaska; Lima City School Board, Lima, Ohio; and Minnetonka Public Schools District Board of Education, Minnetonka, Minn.
According to the Kennedy Center, school districts selected for this prize must demonstrate support for all four disciplines in arts education programs, including visual arts, music, theater, and dance. Instruction and programming must be available for all students throughout the district. Another important factor is a school district’s partnerships with the cultural resources available in its community.