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Art program at Destin Elementary School undergoing transformation, not elimination

Concerns were raised on social media earlier this week regarding the potential elimination of the Art Program at Destin Elementary School due to recent “budget cuts” in the Okaloosa County School District. 

Concerns were raised on social media earlier this week regarding the potential elimination of the Art Program at Destin Elementary School due to recent “budget cuts” in the Okaloosa County School District. 

  • However, the district has clarified that there is no pullback in Arts programs and that Destin Elementary will continue to offer art education, albeit in a different form.

Deputy Superintendent Steve Horton explained that for the past ten years, the district’s staffing pattern for elementary schools has included Physical Education and one elective offering, Music or Art, as selected by each school.

Some schools, including Destin Elementary, were grandfathered in and allowed to maintain both Music and Art until one of the positions was vacated.

“There is no district pullback in the Arts programs, far from it. In fact, more funding has gone to K-12 Arts programs over the past four years than ever before,” Horton said in an interview. 

Horton further explained that 3 elementary schools (Bluewater Bay, Destin, and Northwood) offered both Music and Art at the time the staffing pattern was initiated and were approved to continue with both electives (grandfathered) until one of the positions was vacated.

  • “When an elective teacher at Destin Elementary left prior to the 2023-2024 school year, the school should have returned to P.E. and one elective, but Superintendent Chambers recommended that a second elective program be extended for the year,” Horton said.

Destin Elementary, along with the two other schools, was made aware at the beginning of the year that this would be the last year for the grandfathered second elective, and that 2024-2025 staffing would match the other fifteen elementary schools in the district, according to Horton.

The school’s Principal, Amy Meyer, is currently developing plans to ensure that Art continues at Destin Elementary, even if not in the exact same form. 

  • “We are currently looking into the Oval Art program where volunteers come into classrooms to do art activities and the school purchases the materials,” Meyer said. “We are also looking to contract with individuals who have an art background to come in quarterly for 2 weeks at a time to rotate classes through an art block during their specials rotation.”

Meyer also noted that students participate in many creative art projects within their own classrooms related to curriculum, celebrations, and holidays. 

“In the current year, Destin Elementary students have had Art two times a month. I believe that standard can be maintained going forward to where students won’t notice much of a difference,” she added.

Horton emphasized that the district has been allocating more funding to K-12 Arts programs over the past four years than ever before. This not only includes art in elementary schools, but also band instrument replacement, chorus, and even funds for drama programs that never had funds in the past. 

Horton says he is confident that Principal Meyer will roll out a plan for next fall that meets the needs of Destin Elementary students despite the sunset of the grandfathered position.

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