Fillmore Arts Center to Lose $600,000 in Funding

D.C. Public Schools has cut funding for the Fillmore Arts Center from its proposed budget for the 2016-2017 school year, according to Friends of Fillmore.

The Fillmore Arts Center provides arts education to students from the D.C. elementary schools of Hyde-Addison, Key, Marie Reed, Ross and Stoddert by offering art classes, after-school programs and Festival Evenings to showcase student work.

Friends of Fillmore, a non-profit volunteer board made up of parents and community members, posted on its website Feb. 19 that D.C. Public Schools told the five school principals that they would not receive any funding for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The center is funded in part by the individual schools, and DCPS funds the transportation, supplies and some of the salaries for the instructors. Without DCPS, the schools will have to pay for the entire program out of their own budgets.

The current operating budget for Fillmore is $1.6 million. DCPS provides $600,000.

The alternative is to have individual arts programs at each of the schools, but John Claud, president of Friends of Fillmore, says the five schools do not have the capability to run comprehensive arts programs on their own. Some are dealing with being over capacity and with being housed in temporary classrooms. They lack the space and funding to provide the spectrum of classes that the center has offered them and rely on Fillmore to give their students an opportunity to engage with the arts.

Claud believes that the Fillmore program is an affordable one, especially once the budget is examined and costs are trimmed down, including a transportation cost that was much higher this year than in any other year. Friends of Fillmore and the individual schools will be in conversation with DCPS to attempt to come to an understanding of an affordable budget to keep the program running, a discussion that did not happen before the announcement of the cut.

Posts on the Friends of Fillmore page as well as on the websites of Stoddert Elementary and Ross Elementary are encouraging parents and community members to call, email and tweet to DCPS and its chancellor Kaya Henderson in protest of the proposed cut.

A similar fight took place in 2013, when DCPS proposed a $300,000 budget cut for the 2013-2014 year, according to the Washington Post. DCPS eventually decided not to make cuts to the budget for that year.

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