Murphy: 100% of New Jersey public schools now offer arts programs

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Gov. Phil Murphy celebrated a milestone for New Jersey schools Monday.

The governor said Monday at Paramus High School that 100% of the state’s public school districts offer arts programs.

Murphy took a series of arts classes at the school Monday, including dance, photography and culinary. He says that he is proud a new report shows every student in the state had access to art instruction during the 2017-2018 school year.

The report found that 81% of students - an increase of 250,000 kids - are participating in arts education. But only a quarter of high schools offer all four art education disciplines: art, music, theater and dance. But recent cuts to state aid have impacted some arts programs at New Jersey schools.

“It's somewhere probably between five and eight [elementary schools] that are not going to have art and music,” Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer told News 12 New Jersey last week.

Budget cuts hit the Paterson School District hard. Shafer says that 130 teachers were laid off.

"We lost some art and music teachers…and last year was the first year all of our elementary schools had art and music since the state takeover. So, we're kind of taking a step back,” she said.

As districts like Paterson are looking at thinner budgets in the current school year, the governor says the state is offering help.

"The Department of Education, not just in arts, but more broadly, has been working with school districts that have been impacted and we've been able to find in most cases, not in every case, we've been able to find common ground,” Murphy said.

Murphy was in Paramus to celebrate National Arts in Education Week.

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