Visual and Performing Arts

The district’s “Community Opus Project” began in 2010 as an after-school music education program on the high-need west side of Chula Vista. The program soon grew from two pilot schools to six, and then work began with arts organizations on a Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) strategic plan. That strategic plan positioned CVESD well for the significant changes in public education that came down the pike: the implementation of the state’s new funding formula for schools, and the implementation of the new state standards.

The Board was primed for a critical funding decision in 2014-15. That’s when the Board announced its commitment to hire full-time music instructors and provide music and arts instruction during the school day for all students. CVESD made an unprecedented $15 million investment in arts instruction, spread over three years. The investment was made possible thanks to the state Legislature’s support of the new Local Control Funding Formula that shifted education spending decisions to the local level; the flexibility provided was key to target additional support to disadvantaged students and by extension all students. Specifically, the $5 million annual allocation was to hire additional teachers—teachers with a focus on Visual and Performing Arts. In turn, this provided our classroom teachers with release time for collaboration. The funding for collaboration while also boosting arts instruction District-wide was praised by our classroom teachers and arts supporters alike as a “win-win.” 

Why is VAPA so important?

A student’s family is at the heart of what we do in our schools. Family engagement is a key determinant of student success. Educators know this. In the Chula Vista Elementary School District, our families are more engaged in our schools because of our partnership with the San Diego Youth Symphony and the programs they have nurtured in our neediest schools. When students perform, mother, father, sister, brother and the abuelitos are in the audience. Families are on our campuses, and, for schools, that’s the opening act. Parent attendance is our opportunity to involve them in activities and let them know how important they are to our academic programs, our school committees—our mission in educating the whole child. We hear from families over and over about their love of VAPA. Arts instruction allows students to foster their creative and critical-thinking skills in keeping with the objectives of the new state standards.

What will my child learn?

The Community Opus Project had significant positive effects on students, including: improved motivation and behavior; increased attendance and standardized test scores; and most important, significantly higher parental engagement in their children’s overall education. More than a free music program, Opus created community by building social bonds between students and families and between campuses. Students perform concerts monthly throughout their community, teach family members and friends how to play their instruments, and experience the value of constant improvement through dedication and hard work. CVESD extended these benefits and experiences to its entire community through the re-introduction of VAPA instruction during the school day for all schools. How are VAPA programs supported by the community?

Our collaboration with the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is recognized as a model arts partnership. The District and SDYS rebuilt the music education infrastructure and deepened the sustainability and capacity at our schools with a shared vision: The visual and performing arts reflect our belief that all children should have access to challenging curriculum content, exhibit a high level of performance proficiency, and be prepared for the world of tomorrow.

Our VAPA initiative has attracted a host of high-profile collaborative partners, such as the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and Grammy Award-winning band Switchfoot, among others. Recognition has flowed our way as well, with honors from the prestigious Yale School of Music. In addition, in 2016, our Board was recognized by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) with a Golden Bell Award for excellence in Visual and Performing Arts. Partnership opportunities continue. A music video of the Mike Cothrine song, “One,” features students and staff from Clear View Elementary. It was formally unveiled at a special “Red Carpet Premiere” at the school in May 2017. Beaming students channeled their inner “rock star” to strut the red carpet, pose at a “VIP” photo booth, sign autographs, and sing along with Cothrine as he performed live.

How can I get involved?

"Our VAPA programs greatly impact the lives of our students and community. Through VAPA classes, students can learn and grow in ways that help them become more of who they are. With the support from our community, we can work together to continue strengthening and enhancing our programs across our district."


Marc Keehmer
[email protected]
619-425-9600 Ext. 181316

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