The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools reported on the effect of the sequestration of 45 school districts that receive what is known as ‘impact aid.’ Impact aid is provided by the federal government to schools that educate children who live on Indian reservations, military bases or in low-income housing. The government assistance is intended to make up for decreased property taxes in school systems located on federal land. In total, the more than 1,300 schools that receive impact aid will get $60 million less than expected this year. Schools are dealing with the cuts by deferring maintenance or technology purchases, eliminating staff, increasing class sizes, reducing professional development and cutting back on extracurricular programs or transportation routes. Four districts eliminated programs such as art, music, physical education or field trips for the current school year.
New York City artist Adarsh Alphons wants to remedy the gap in art classes and public education, while simultaneously restoring youth programming libraries, where budget cuts have eliminated thousands of hours of programming. His organization, Project Art, is turning the library into a studio where low-income children can take art classes. “A lot of public school kids in Harlem are still sent to the libraries after school where there are no activities,” says Alphons.
Discussions about having high school students create a public art project started more than a year ago in Lake Zurich, Illinois. More than 20 students in the district’s now-graduated Advanced Placement studio art class created a 40 foot mural on a village parks department wall. Now it's hoped the high school can deliver more public art to Lake Zurich. "It's through these types of projects you're able to communicate with the stakeholders at all levels," high school art teacher Matt Winkelman said. "Many small towns have used murals as a way to share history, affirm heritage and enliven public life," said local art historian Olivia Gude. "I would hope that every suburban town thinks about how public art, especially by its own residents, can contribute a sense of vitality to public space."