While Oakdale Joint Unified School District has long been known for its athletic accomplishments, as well as academic, the board remains focused on bringing enrichment to students of all interests.
Now, thanks to the passage of Measure 28 in the November 2022 election, the district will be able to continue this quest.
Passing by a large margin, Measure 28 provides an ongoing source of funding to school districts throughout the State of California to start new or expand upon existing arts education programs for students K-12. A total of over $750,000 has been allotted to OJUSD for the 2022-2023 school year, 80 percent of which must be spent on staff, with 20 percent remaining to be spent on materials and other supplements.
With the passing of this measure, school districts will receive an undetermined amount each year from the state for this purpose.
“The budget is providing for one percent of their overall fund to go to schools for arts and music. That’s pretty fabulous,” Gillian Wegener, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, shared.
According to Wegener, fellow Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources, Craig Redman spoke with site principals, as well as all music teachers to aid with addressing the needs of the sites. The decision was made to hire two additional elementary music teachers and two additional secondary music teachers, one with instrumental focus and one with choir focus.
“This way we can expand the already very strong programs,” Wegener said. “We’re already looking for those teachers and hoping to add them to our staff next year.”
Wegener further stated that budget projections were taken into account by Business Officer Kassandra Booth to determine longevity for the additional staff, regardless of the yearly amount allocated through Measure 28.
“Kassandra Booth feels very strongly that we will be able to sustain these positions for the long term,” Wegener said.
She further stated that OJUSD is adhering to the direction of Measure 28, either to start new or expand existing arts education programs.
“We have the ability to expand the music program, because we have facilities that can handle that,” Wegener stated. “It would be more challenging and more expensive to establish a new arts program.”
Acknowledging that new programs such as photography or dance would be welcome additions, she noted that each would require facilities that the district does not have funding for.
“We have such a strong music program and so much call for that. Our current music teachers are wonderful,” Wegener acknowledged, “but they’re all spread really thin, so this is a way to grow that program and relieve our teachers a little tiny bit.”
In addition, the district has secured a one-time grant which will also benefit the OJUSD arts programs.
“We’re really lucky because we also have the arts, music and instructional materials block grant, which is a one-time fund,” she said. “That’s going to allow us to purchase legacy items like new band uniforms or replacement instruments or that type of thing. Things that last a really long time.”
The Measure 28 passage was welcomed, Wegener added.
“Mostly it just really allows us to ease the burden on our current teachers and to make sure that elementary are maybe able to get two days of music instead of one day of music,” she said of Measure 28. “It just expands that program and strengthens the kids’ understanding of music.”