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Arts Education in New York City Gets $23 Million Boost

Arts Education in New York City Gets $23 Million Boost
The money is expected to affect thousands of kids in the next school year.

New York City Mayor De Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on Tuesday an "unprecedented" $23 million is to be spent on arts education in the 2014-2015 school year. The money is part of the city budget for fiscal year 2014, which also began Tuesday.

The funding will support 120 new certified arts teachers, improved facilities and new partnerships with cultural institutions.

The most amount of money, $7 million, is being invested in facilities and resources across the city. Some of this money is also going to school resources, libraries and instrument repairs.

Five million dollars will be used to hire the new teachers. Of this money, $360,000 will be used to train up to 20 new teachers while they teach full time. The rest of the money will go toward hiring 100 certified and experienced arts educators.

More than a million dollars will be used to expand partnerships with cultural organizations, which help schools meet their arts requirements as mandated by the state.

The announcement came after a report from the comptroller's office about arts education throughout the city. It found that 419 schools (28 percent) lack even one full-time, certified arts teacher. Of these schools, 306 (20 percent) don't have any part-time certified teachers either. And more than 42 percent of these schools are in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn. According to census information, both these areas have among the lowest median household incomes.

Mayor De Blasio said arts education is critical to students' success.

“The investments we are making here won’t just help our students explore music, dance and the arts,” the mayor said. “They will help these children grow in a way that will help them succeed in school and in life.”

Speaking from personal experience from her time as an educator, Fariña also said research shows that the arts can benefit kids and their schools.

“The attendance in schools that had strong arts programs was higher than the schools that did not,” Fariña said.

Although elementary schools were found to have the least amount of arts education, most of the money is going toward middle schools. Fariña said that if elementary schools want to collaborate with middle schools, they can apply for a grant. However, she said middle schools have much more of a compliance issue with the state than elementary schools. Currently, there are many schools that don't follow state laws regarding arts education.

In response to questions about schools that won't be able to get one of the hundred new teachers, Fariña said she's hoping schools will be able to share teachers, especially co-located schools. Mayor De Blasio added that this is only the first step, and more improvements will come in the future.

Officials were unable to answer how this new funding compares to funding in the past few years.