The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Advisory Committee on the Fine Arts has made recommendations for improving curriculum, facilities and staffing for arts and music education in the 2004-05 academic year.

The fine arts committee presented its annual report to the board of education Thursday, June 3rd.

“The major challenge facing fine arts education in the district this year is staffing,” said Zina Joseph, president of the advisory committee.

The board of education decided in May to lay off 27 teachers in response to a $3.89 million budget shortfall.

“On the layoff list are two of the district’s 19 music teachers and two of the 15 art teachers,” Joseph noted.

“The layoffs of music and art teachers will eliminate specific classes and prevent students — who might be very successful — from seeking instruction,” she said.

Other recommendations include:

n expanding dance programs in elementary, middle and high schools;

n expanding middle school drama programs;

n bringing back an elementary school general music program, which was discontinued in 1983;

n hiring a part-time manager at Barnum Hall, which is Santa Monica High School’s theater for music and drama programs; and

n increasing visual arts funding for instructional materials and equipment.

Barnum Hall is also used by the general public for performances.

“Public performances in the hall should not occur until the district has a manager in place to protect the taxpayer’s investment in the building and its expensive equipment,” Joseph said.

“School district teachers and administrators cannot be asked to donate their evenings and weekends to staff the hall for non-school events,” she said

Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez said it would be “critical” to hire a manager, since public performances can generate revenue for the school district.

An Advisory Committee on the Fine Arts review of the current academic year included details of a spring break 2004 trip to the Czech Republic by the Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra.

“I went on this trip and wish I could somehow bring my experience to you,” said Tom Whaley, the district’s fine arts coordinator.