The DC Department of Public Schools’ (DCPS) 2013-2014 budget includes cuts to the Fillmore Arts Center that leave the program “with no hope of viability,” the Friends of Fillmore group says.
Fillmore — part of the DC Public School system — provides classes, workshops and summer programs in dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative writing and media arts to more than 3,500 DC Public School students each year. The students who benefit from the programs are pulled from Garrison, Hearst, Houston, Hyde, Key, Raymond, Ross, Stoddert and River Terrace schools.
According to Friends of Fillmore — the PTA group who started a petition in response to the cuts — per-pupil funding at the school has dropped by 40 percent in the last four years. The latest round of cuts will force Fillmore’s principal to eliminate four of the five full-time teaching positions that remain at the arts school.
Friends of Fillmore is asking DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to restore $300,000 to Fillmore’s budget for next year. This amount would restore the school’s budget to about what it was in the 2011-2012 school year.
“You need to remember that instruction in different areas of art don’t just make artists, it makes flexible, creative thinkers with critical minds ready to problem solve,” says Kelly Richmond, board chair of Friends of Fillmore, in a letter. “Arts training builds student confidence, perseverance, focus and dedication. These children will be asked to collaborate, work with constructive feedback and express themselves non-verbally when they learn in the arts. All skills I want in my future neighbors, employees, mortgage bankers, librarians, bus drivers, frankly anybody I encounter. Don’t you?”
So far, the petition has more than 600 signatures of support. Fillmore Arts Center has been active for more than 30 years. It operates two locations, including one at 1819 35th Street NW and one at 915 Spring Road NW.