CROWN HEIGHTS — Arts funding in city schools has risen to nearly $400 million annually and more full-time arts teachers are working in classrooms now than in the past decade, the Department of Education says in a new report.
“There has never been a time in New York City these students have been better served by the arts,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said Wednesday after touring arts classes at P.S. 316 in Crown Heights, an elementary school with arts classes that serve both English Language Learners and students on the autism spectrum.
The education department released its annual Arts in Schools Report, a summation of how many arts programs are active in public schools and how many arts teachers the city employees, among other things.
According to the report, arts funding is up $32 million this school year over last, from $367 million in 2014-2015 to $399 million in 2015-2016, Farina announced. At the same time, the DOE says it employees 2,757 full-time, certified arts teachers, a number not seen in 11 years.
In particular, arts programs designed for students whose first language is not English and students with special needs have nearly doubled in one year, the chancellor said; 285 schools had such programs in 2015-2016, up 97 percent from 144 schools in 2014-2015.
“For many of our special needs students, speaking in public, getting applause, being able to dramatize their learning, is really a way to make their learning concrete,” Farina said.
A wide range of arts classes and afterschool programs are available to students at P.S. 316, according to Principal Olga Maluf, DNAinfo’s Principal of the Week earlier this year. Lessons include steel drumming, cello classes and Shakespearean theater.
Chancellor Carmen Farina, left, tours arts classrooms at P.S. 316 with District 17 superintendent Clarence Ellis and Principal Olga Maluf, right, in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith)
Maluf said Wednesday she is honored to be recognized by the chancellor as a strong arts-focused school, and is particularly proud of the school’s ability to seamlessly include special education students in everyday arts classes. For example, on Wednesday, she and the chancellor watched a drama class in with four out of 12 students were diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but “you really couldn’t identify who they were,” she said.
“We don’t segregate our children. So, our after school clubs are available to everyone — violin, cello, sports,” she said. “And they do really well. We’re very pleased.”
Since Maluf started at the school in 2011, enrollment is up almost 100 percent at P.S. 316, she said. Farina attributed that increase, in part, to the school’s excellent arts programming.
“Parents want the arts,” she said.
To see the full Arts in Schools Report, visit the education department’s Office of Arts website here.