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The proposed school budget preserved visual and performing arts.

Statement: The budget proposal before the San Diego Unified school board would preserve the arts, Interim Superintendent Bill Kowba said at a Feb. 16 school board meeting on the budget cuts.

Determination: True

Analysis: Music and arts boosters have expressed concern to the school board that the district’s proposed budget cuts would harm their programs.

Kowba made his statement to allay those concerns — and it’s an accurate one. While the school district didn’t completely spare the arts, the cuts are modest enough that Kowba can fairly claim they were preserved.

San Diego Unified has 33 full and part-time teachers who teach music, splitting their time between different schools. Only one full-time position would be cut under the proposed budget changes, and the department plans to reduce the hours of two employees, rather than cutting one whole person. The cut would slash roughly $86,000 from the department budget of $4.3 million — a 2 percent cut.

To put that in perspective, the school district is considering suspending other educational programs in Balboa Park and Old Town entirely — something that would impact more than 60 employees. Overall, more than 200 jobs would be slashed under the proposed budget cuts.

To be sure, there will be cuts. Karen Childress-Evans, who oversees the arts programs, said the cutbacks would reduce services at two of the district’s 188 schools. More than 200 children would lose instruction in music, she said, and it will put more pressure on the two impacted schools to find ways to make up the lost teaching time in the arts.

— EMILY ALPERT

Summer Polacek

Summer Polacek was formerly the Development Manager at Voice of San Diego.

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