Understanding Proposition 28 – Resources from CMEA


It’s an exciting time to be a music teacher in California!

Proposition 28, a California ballot initiative that guarantees additional funding for arts and music instruction and programming in K–12 public schools statewide, passed in the November 2022 general election. Beginning next year, the state of California will increase their support of music education.

The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) is working to prepare teachers for this unique opportunity.

“It’s actually a bit surreal knowing that funding and resources will be available each year for the arts in schools,” says CMEA President Anne Fennell. “For decades, arts education has been largely defined by minimal funding and program cuts, along with a scarcity mindset, so it’s almost hard to believe that money will be available every year. But it’s true, the money is here to stay, and it’s marked solely for arts education.”

CMEA Music Supervisors Representative Brad Van Patten provides useful information about Prop 28, including how the state will allocate funding, how administrators must use the additional funding, and reporting requirements, in the Winter 2023 issue of CMEA Magazine (see below).

J.W. Pepper’s California team, which includes Dave Buckeyne ( and Ashli Rulien (, is ready to support you as you plan budgets, update equipment inventories, and prepare for the years ahead. Reach out to Dave or Ashli with any questions and stay tuned for more information and resources!

Prop 28 Update

By Brad Van Patten, CMEA Music Supervisors Representative

This article is reprinted courtesy of the California Music Educators Association magazine, Volume 76, No. 2. Winter 2023

I hope you all are excited about the possibilities in front of us. This truly is a remarkable time for music education and a true renaissance for all of arts education. On October 7th, music and arts program leaders from around the state met in Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts to discuss how best to direct and influence the resources that Proposition 28 would bring. We are very thankful to hear our CMEA president, Anne Fennell, along with Talena Mara, Vice President of Education for the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, and United States Department of Education Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten provide exceptional vision and passion for how arts education can elevate all children in our schools. Along with the collegiality of our leaders and the vast expertise in the room, there were many great ideas and practices on how best to utilize what could be the largest turn around in arts education, maybe anywhere in the nation. As more information comes forth, it will be good to recognize the idea that we need to make sure these funds are spent on their intended purpose.

So, what exactly is in Prop 28?

The following was taken from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) and provides some clear language around the intent and execution of the funds.

Beginning next year, Proposition 28 requires the state to provide additional funding to increase arts instruction and/or arts programs in public schools. The amount required each year would equal 1 percent of the constitutionally required (Prop 98) state and local funding that public schools received the year before. This funding would be considered a payment above the constitutionally required amount of funding for public schools and community colleges. The proposition allows the Legislature to reduce funding provided by this proposition for arts education in a year when the Legislature provides less than the constitutional spending requirement. In this case, the reduction in funding for arts education could not be more than the percentage reduction in total funding to public schools and community colleges.

Proposition 28 distributes the additional funding to public schools based on enrollment in preschool and K–12. Of the total amount, 70 percent would go to schools based on their share of statewide enrollment. The remaining 30 percent would go to schools based on their share of low-income students enrolled statewide. Local governing boards may use up to 1 percent of this new funding for administrative expenses. The remainder of the funding must be distributed to all school sites based on their student enrollment.

Proposition 28 requires funding be used for arts education programs and requires schools to certify that these funds were spent in addition to existing funding for arts education programs. This may include a variety of subjects, including dance, media arts, music, theater, and various types of visual arts (including photography, craft arts, computer coding, and graphic design).

The proposition also requires at least 80 percent of the additional funding be used to hire staff. (School districts and charter schools with fewer than 500 students would not have to meet this requirement). The remaining funding could be used for training, supplies and materials, and for arts educational partnership programs.

Proposition 28 requires the principal of a school site (or the program director of a preschool) to develop a plan for spending the funding they receive. The principal or preschool program director would determine how to expand a site’s arts instruction and/or programs. Proposition 28 requires local governing boards to certify each year that the funding their schools received was spent on arts education. Additionally, local governing boards must post on their website a report on how funds were spent. The report must include the type of arts education programs funded, the number of staff employed, the number of students served, and the number of school sites providing arts education with the funding received. This report must also be submitted to California Department of Education (CDE) and made public on the department’s website.

So, what should be done now?

We don’t have clear language yet from the CDE on exactly how schools will report their expenditures, but we do know the money will be here and what the intent is: to increase arts staffing and provide other resources for arts instruction. Developing a plan and investing time with all stakeholders would help ensure these resources will reach our students with the greatest impact. Does your school/school district have a mission and vision statement that is aligned to your district’s vision statement, along with an arts education plan? Do you have data on arts enrollments broken down by discipline, sub groups, and matriculation rates? Do you have an accurate and clear inventory of equipment, along with purchase date and replacement costs including the depreciated value of expensive equipment?

There is much work to be done, and we cannot act alone. We must do it together! CMEA will continue to advocate and hold meetings throughout the near future in order to assist with your school’s planning. I can speak for all the music leaders out there, we are all willing to help. Feel free to reach out to either me or any of your arts leaders.


Pepper has served musicians since 1876. We hope you find our blog posts informative and a wonderful gateway to news in the world of music.


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