Community opposes plan to close Fillmore Art Center in DC next school year

Hundreds of parents are battling DC Public Schools, as they try to save a beloved Art School.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Hundreds of parents across Northwest, D.C. have found themselves at ends with leadership of the D.C. Public Schools, as they look to save the Fillmore Art Center for the second year in a row.

This program, which services students at five schools, is expected to be shut down for the 2017 school year. 

"We don't want that to happen," said Frida Larios, a mother of two children at Hyde Elementary School. "Because this is one of the highest quality programs in the District." 

The Art Center provides lessons in various skill sets, including dance, digital arts, theater, music, and visual arts. These classes are available for students at Stoddert Elementary School, Marie Reed Elementary School, Ross Elementary School, Hyde Elementary School, and Key Elementary School. The program costs $1.6 million, in which the school district provides $600,000, and the individual schools pay $200,000 each.  

The school district plans to shut down the Fillmore Art Center, in order to cut costs, and build a "more robust" and equitable system for all schools. Instead, the District will create an art program at each of the individual schools, including two teachers and an art classroom.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a petition against the plan had been signed by more than 350 community members. Jennifer Perry, the president of the Stoddert Elementary School PTO, said that she was strongly opposed, because it decrease the art programming available. 

"My kids say to me 'mom, what happens if we don't have Fillmore," she said. "'Will I get to play the violin, will I get to do art...' And I have to say 'I don't know.' Because we don't have the space."

Meanwhile local leaders have taken action as well. Last week, The Advisory Neighborhood Commission from 3B passed a resolution to "put a fire" under city leaders. Brian Turmail said that the resolution urged DCPS to take action to ensure all students from the impacted schools would have adequate art programming. 

"My child will go from having a world-class arts instruction," he said. "To art-in-a-cart cause there's no room at Stoddert Elementary where she goes for a new arts classroom." 

Last winter, the school district considered a similar closure of the Fillmore Art Center, and was met by major opposition. A petition was circulated at the time, which took in more than 1,500 signatures in opposition. 

"It's like Groundhog day," said Turmail.


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