LCAP Success Story in Santa Cruz

The Challenge: How to increase access to arts education in a large district with limited opportunities for arts.

The Strategy: Bring solutions to your local school board.

The Story: The Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education, launched in 2012, has an ambitious goal - to advocate for arts education for all students in every school community in Santa Cruz County. They began their work by focusing on the county’s largest district, which had very limited arts education offerings.  The Santa Cruz Alliance knew that their best chance to make an impact within the district was to advocate for the inclusion of arts in that district’s new Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).

“We did so by building relationships with school board members, coordinating presenting materials at school board meetings and town hall planning sessions, defining a clear and appropriate ask, and following up and celebrating the progress made,” says Sarah Brothers, the Arts Education Manager for the Arts Council Santa Cruz County and leader for the Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education (SCCAAE).
Starting last June, every California school district in partnership with local community members is required to complete an LCAP each June that lays out the goals, strategies and funding allocations for the district for the coming three years. During the months leading up to the adoption of the plan, community members are given an opportunity to speak up about what is important to them at public meetings, in writing and by participating in LCAP committees. So starting in November, the Santa Cruz advocates undertook the following steps:
  • Attend School Board Meetings and Listen 
Two members of SCCAAE team visit a school board meeting, take notes, and report on the issues faced by the district, its needs and other important background information for their advocacy.
  • Begin Planning School Board Presentation, November
    Identify possible speakers, formulate specific ask and gather supporting information. 
  • Send Letters of Support from Community Leaders to School Board
    Prior to their school board presentation, SCCAAE requested letters of support from community leaders, to help strengthen the ask and give it credibility.
  • School Board Presentation, January

District Gate Coordinator (and by default VAPA coordinator) for the district presented. She had 12 minutes on the agenda. Points she spoke to:

1. Local success stories related to the arts
2. District credentialed class numbers by school in district
3. Common Core Alignment/STEAM
4. Specific Ask: Update our District Arts Plan
  • Public Comment

    Following the full presentation, SCCAAE arranged to have a diverse group of community members speak during the public comment section. 
1. Jerry – Gave a personal and inspiring perspective on the impact of arts on students in PVUSD, citing arts as the FOUNDATION to education
2. Susan F. – How the arts are a bridge to literacy for English language learners and underscore the art’s connection to Common Core
3. Susan M. – Presented a personal perspective on what it is like teaching art to middle school students in PVUSD – especially when they have no prior instruction, LEVEL the playing field, opportunities for success…
4. Celeste – Spoke to the statewide trend to support arts education, the ask from the Alliance (i.e. update the plan -including funding to support a VAPA coordinator for the district to help oversee the process), and asked everyone in attendance who was there to support the arts to stand
Many people showed up in support of their presentation, despite the many conflicting events in the arts world of Santa Cruz. There were principals, teaching artists, and arts administrators there. They had promoted this ahead of time via Facebook and our e-newsletter. One of the speakers invited supporters to stand and a huge part of the room stand in support. 
  • Parent members of SCCAAE attend two LCAP Town Hall meetings to voice their desire for more arts in the schools, March - May
  • District includes 14.5 FTE VAPA release time instructors and $5,000 for Arts Plan update in their LCAP!
  • Advocates Thank the District 
1. Press release to acknowledge district for including Arts in the LCAP, July
2. Acknowledgement letter to Assistant Superintendent for including Arts in the LCAP, July
“District leaders should be commended for listening to input from parents, teachers, and community members who voiced the importance of making the arts a core part of every child’s education. The reception in PVUSD has been so encouraging – both board members and staff understood early on that the arts needed to return to this district,” said Celeste DeWald, parent and SCCAAE volunteer
Thank you and congratulations to the local advocates in Santa Cruz County!