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Board votes to fund art salaries

Salaries of teachers and coordinator will stay thanks to a state grant approved last week by the district.

November 24, 2007|By Rachel Kane

CITY HALL — The arts will go on.

Burbank Unified School District board members approved the use of more than $225,000 in state grant money last week to continue the salaries of music teachers and the district’s arts coordinator.

The grant will fund the salaries of the district’s two elementary school music teachers who have been working in the district since April.

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Music teachers Ian Tam and Rachel Tarbert have been rotating between the 11 elementary schools in the district giving lessons on music theory, reading music, playing instruments and music appreciation to second- through fifth-grade students.

The funding, although expected from the beginning to be ongoing, has been cemented for salary use by the board’s resolution.

“I think it’s as dependable as most ongoing funds from the state,” said Assistant Supt. Joel Shapiro.

“Nothing is ever guaranteed, but we have every expectation that this money will be available to us every year.”

The funds will also be used to pay the salary of Peggy Flynn, the district’s arts coordinator. Flynn’s position, as well as the two music teachers’, was established as part of the district’s Arts for All plan.

Arts for All, the district’s plan to increase arts education and funding in all its schools, was adopted in 2005 with a call for a new arts coordinator and four music teachers.

Funds from the state’s ongoing arts grants became available shortly after the district approved the Arts for All plan and school board members were able to open new arts positions, Flynn said.

“We just happen to be ahead of our time,” she said.

“A lot of districts, when this money came down, didn’t have a plan . . . . That’s where Burbank was really ahead of the game.”

Flynn’s main function is to serve as a liaison between Burbank businesses and the district and work with the Burbank Arts Education Foundation, she said.

The district’s next focus to improve the arts education in their schools is to acquire funds for the hiring of two more music teachers in the coming year.

Flynn expects talks to begin this spring about the addition of the positions, she said.

For now, board members have made more than half the financial commitment to the program in reaffirming grant money to be used for salaries within the arts.

“It’s a start and we hope to grow the program bigger as we get more money through the [Burbank] Arts Education Foundation,” said Debbie Kukta, district board president.


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