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MILLIONS FROM STATE FOR SCHOOLS FUNDS DESIGNATED FOR ARTS, PHYSICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO

Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- For the first time, California public schools will receive state funding specifically for art, music and physical education programs, and Antelope Valley schools are in line to get more than $6.9 million.

School officials said they were excited about getting extra money for areas that often are first to be cut during budget crunch times.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to make purchases in areas that we have not been able to address for some time," said Cathy Shepard, chief financial officer for the Antelope Valley Union High School District.

"The money that supports those areas comes from the general fund, and the general fund is 85 percent tied up in labor. It doesn't leave a lot for purposes of art music, and P.E. for extras. It's an opportunity we could not have been able to address if this special money had not come through."

The money is part of $500 million in state funding for professional development, equipment and supplies to improve instruction in the arts, music and P.E.

The grants, approved as part of the 2006-07 state budget, will provide each school district, charter school, and county office of education with $83.04 per student. Each district will be required to spend at least $2,500 per school site.

Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District will receive $153,301; the high school district, $1.8 million; Eastside, $224,962; Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes, $32,490; Keppel, $241,948; Lancaster, $1.2 million; Palmdale, $1.7 million; Westside, $676,000; and Wilsona, $161,858.

In Kern County, Mojave Unified School District will be allotted $228,695; Muroc, $186,763; and Southern Kern, $261,300.

There is no deadline on spending the funds and they can be carried over to future fiscal years.

This is the first time schools will receive money specially designated for physical education and the visual and performing arts, state officials said.

"High-quality arts education and improved physical fitness can support academic achievement in all areas of a student's education," state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said.

"With these funds, teachers can expand their content knowledge and teaching skills in physical education and visual and performing arts through professional development, and students can benefit from enhanced equipment and supplies that increase the quality of learning experiences."

Districts may bring together teachers, administrators, parents and students to assess needs and develop a plan on how to use the money.

Shepard said the high school district has not come up with a plan yet.

"The items can be purchased one time. It can't be a continuing cost," Shepard said. "Probably what we'll do is since we have a mix of new and old schools, we will look at all the schools and needs and whether they have been receiving money for this purpose and maybe do a weighted allocation to the sites."

karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 29, 2007
Words:488
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