Funding for Arts Teachers in Limbo

Categories: Blog
Why This Matters: Changes to the North Carolina state budget could potentially force school districts to reduce the number of arts teachers.
Fourth grade students at Merry Oaks Elementary School work on wire portraits inspired by artist Alexander Calder. © 2015 Wendy Yang Photography
Fourth grade students at Merry Oaks Elementary School work on wire portraits inspired by artist Alexander Calder. © 2015 Wendy Yang Photography
By Rebecca Scroggins
Director of Government Relations & Grants, ASC 

In 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly included changes in the state budget that lowers class size for grades K-3 for the 2018-19 school year. While this move would allow teachers to give more attention to individual students, it could also significantly impact the already limited arts education that students across the state receive if additional funding is not allocated.

For years the state has provided teacher allotments and class size limits allowing local school districts the flexibility to employ a variety of teachers, including positions in visual art, theatre, dance, and music. The issue is that these positions, known as “Program Enhancement Teachers,” do not currently have separate allocated funding from the state.

The General Assembly adopted a bill in June which stated its intent to use data collected during the 2017-2018 school year to establish separate funding for Program Enhancement Teachers for the next school year. If reductions in K-3 class size requirements take effect as scheduled for the 2018-2019 school year without a separate allotment for Program Enhancement Teachers, there may not be adequate funding for these positions in many school districts. This would force districts to reduce the number of arts teachers.

The North Carolina Arts Education Leadership Coalition – whose member organizations include the NC Music Educators Association, NC Dance Education Organization, NC Art Education Association, NC Theatre Conference and NC Theatre Arts Educators Association – and Arts North Carolina have come together behind a unified statement urging legislators to fully fund Program Enhancement Teachers in all arts education for all local school districts without delay.

ASC will continue to partner with Arts North Carolina – the statewide advocacy organization for the arts – to monitor this issue and share with you any impact to arts education in the state and locally and to determine the best way to advocate for solutions.

You can stay informed about the issues and advocate for arts and culture by registering for VoterVoice.

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