SF Board of Education to vote on proposal to defund the arts

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In San Francisco, there is a measure before the school board Tuesday night to defund a popular arts program in order to provide more money to hire full-time P.E. teachers. The proposal is not sitting well with many educators and parents.

Two weeks ago, the San Francisco Board of Education quietly told two administrators that their contracts would not be renewed. One is the head of curriculum and instruction, the other directs a program called Visual and Performing Arts, known as VAPA.

A third man, the executive director for Creativity and the Arts, Donn Harris suddenly announced he was retiring.

Why is this significant?

Because now three board members are proposing eliminating $2.3-million in funding for VAPA, the program at the heart of San Francisco's art education which, one way or another, all three men oversee.

"This is a vote of no confidence in arts education in a city that is known far and wide as being the city on the hill for arts education," said former artistic director for SFUSD, Susan Stauter.

The three board members want to instead use the $2.3-million to hire more full-time PE teachers.

VAPA is supposed to receive $16-million to provide access and equity to a quality arts education for every student-a level playing field.

Jorell Chavez is a vocal teacher who benefits from the VAPA program.

"We had people who come from the opera. This is all facilitated by VAPA because we don't have the time to do this, we teach all day," explained Chavez.

Ironically these cuts are being proposed just as the newly revised Arts Education Master Plan for the school district was about to be presented by VAPA.

"How do you run a Cadillac with no gas? How do you have a great idea that you cannot implement because you don't have the people," expressed Stauter.

And late Tuesday afternoon meetings were taking place to possibly change this proposal.
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