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Lower enrollment may cause changes within Seattle Public Schools

Decreasing enrollment at Seattle Public Schools is putting a music and art program at risk for reductions.

SEATTLE — At Wedgwood Elementary, a program that turns out big performances has received nothing but praise from parent Miranda Lu.

“Our multi-arts teacher actually stitched together little clips,” said Lu. “She basically made a virtual concert for every class, and each class had their own song.”

It meant the show went on even during remote learning. But parents are worried about what next year will bring.

“At the school level, parents have been really concerned,” said Lu.

It is an issue being felt districtwide. 

Enrollment projections are used to determine the budget, and right now enrollment is down, according to Seattle Public Schools. On the district's website, it states the district budgeted for 52,165 students this school year, but actual enrollment was 1,915 fewer students. The difference resulted in a $28 million gap in revenue. The district anticipates the lower enrollment will continue, and that means staffing adjustments.

At Wedgwood Elementary, parents have been told about some of the possible reductions. For the art teacher, it would still be a full-time schedule, but that time would be split between Wedgwood Elementary and a second school, according to Tim Robinson, district spokesperson. 

In an email, Robinson wrote, “the school is committed to maintaining the offering of multi-arts and visual arts."

“I realize these are hard decisions, but to us the arts are equally important,” said Erin Bowles, who added that the multi-arts class is one of her daughter's favorites.

“I would like to see the school district and the state contribute more funding and keep arts programs as a core source of education for our kids,” said Bowles.

Lu said investments need to be made in "our kids and their futures and the future of our community."

That's why parents say they are pushing for creative solutions to save the program from budget reductions.

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