You may recall that the district had received a Wallace Foundation grant to develop a district-wide vision for arts in Seattle Schools. It was for $1M of planning which was great but the district didn't receive the follow-up grant from the Foundation for the implementation.
But I know this didn't stop Carri Campbell, the director of School and Community Partnerships at SPS and so, with the City's Office of Arts and Culture and the Seattle Foundation, the District started the Creative Advantage partnership. They are also partnering with groups like the Seattle Art Museum, Arts Corps, Arts Impact, EMP and others.
Here's a link to Creative Advantage. Here's the page where you will find a link to the first-year evaluation of the project and to SPS' plan for the arts. (I have not read all of the first-year evaluation as the report is 80! pages.)
The goal of Creative Advantage is for all students to have access to comprehensive arts education, according to the city, despite budget cuts.
They had to pick somewhere to start and they chose the Central Area. The staffs at eight elementaries, one middle school and one high school created what is called a "regional vision" using the PAL program (Principals Arts Leadership). The City's initial investment was $500K.
The Central Area schools were identified as having the most need. These schools, otherwise known as Central Pathway Schools, are comprised of the 13 schools in the Washington Middle School area. Among all the art forms, music instruction was greatly suffering if not completely wiped, so those principals chose to focus on music and gave priority to their youngest students.
“Despite the fact that Washington and Garfield High School have celebrated music programs, six of the nine elementary schools that feed into them had no general music programs,” Querns said.
To the delight of stakeholders, the effort, which started in March 2013, was successful. In its first year, the six identified schools started music classes for their K-1 students, providing nearly 1,700 students with consistent music instruction.
SPS and ARTS plan to expand Creative Advantage to schools in West Seattle.
Because of its importance, the city prioritized the program through new staff capacity and an investment of $450,000 in the program, with plans for an additional investment of $525,000 over the next two years.
SPS and The Seattle Foundation invested money, as well. SPS invested $600,000 in increased staffing, supplies and professional development, while The Seattle Foundation created capacity in private fundraising that raised $200,000 from foundations, according to the city.
Naturally the main issue, from all concerned and as well, in the first year report, is funding.
Stakeholders also worried about leadership turnover at SPS and whether that would influence the funding/attention for the program.
Still another issue:
Conversations about buy-in tended to highlight another concern — that despite growing momentum, the culture of education has not yet fully embraced the arts as a core subject in their own right.
PARENTS - let the district, your principal, the School Board and any School Board candidates you support know that YOU care about arts in your school. They have to know it matters to you and your student.