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Springfield, Mass., School District Hires An Arts Teacher For Every Building

A student going to class in Holyoke High School. In Holyoke there is no formal policy for police access to school cameras, but police are allowed to view exterior cameras and some interior ones.
Jill Kaufman
Inside a high school in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Starting next year, every student in Springfield, Massachusetts, public schools will receive art and music instruction.

It's a surprise use of resources when the trend has been for more science and math learning. 

School officials said the district will spend $3 million to hire 38 certified art and music teachers.

The funds come from dozens of job position cuts and consolidation in the central office, according to Patrick Roach, the district's chief financial and operations officer.

In a district where more than half of 10th graders aren't proficient in math, the addition of art and music is part of a multi-pronged teaching approach.

The classes will free up time for other subject teachers to look at students' learning needs, Roach said.

“It’s an opportunity for groups of teachers to get together, review data, and come up with more specific plans on specific students — and we think that's going to have some major improvements on data and testing,” he said.

Research shows art and music in schools also have a positive effect on other learning, Roach said. And if the school budget gets tight, he said it's not arts jobs that will be cut, as is typical in districts everywhere.

Jill has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing The Connection with Christopher Lydon, Morning Edition, reporting and hosting. In the months leading up to the 2000 presidential primary in New Hampshire, Jill hosted NHPR’s daily talk show The Exchange. Right before coming to NEPM, Jill was an editor at PRX's The World.
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