After outcry, lawmakers scrap plans to slash funding for ‘Moonlight’ alumni’s school

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Lawmakers in Tallahassee have reversed course on plans to cut $650,000 in state grant funding to the Miami arts school whose alumni helped create the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” and the Broadway hit “Hamilton.”

On Saturday morning, the Florida House asked for $500,000 for New World School of the Arts, which would still represent a cut of $150,000 in funding, but is a drastic change from the House’s previous proposal to entirely defund the school. The funding is still under negotiation, talks that now elevate to the full Appropriations chairmen. The Senate also originally proposed cutting all funding to New World, but then proposed $20,000.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was encouraged by the House’s reversal. “The recent House allocation of $500,000 to New World School of the Arts is an encouraging step in the right direction. We are hopeful that the Senate will actually counter with full restoration to the current year’s level,” he said in a text.

Since its creation by the Florida Legislature in 1984, New World has educated students who have gone on to create award-winning films and Broadway hits and build successful careers in dance and the visual arts. As news of the Legislature’s plans spread on Friday, some of the school’s notable alumni took to social media in protest.

New World alumnus Alex Lacamoire, the music director for the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” asked his followers to call Rep. Roy Hardemon, D-Miami. “My arts HS @NWSA_MIAMI is in danger of severely losing funding,” he tweeted.

Tarell Alvin McCraney, a New World alum who wrote the play that served as the basis for “Moonlight,” posted a plea to save the school’s funding on Facebook. He asked supporters to call Hardemon “And tell em that a kid with no hope who found his way at new world sent you.”

Funding for the school’s core academic programs comes from the same pot of state and local education money as any other school, but the state grant funds the supplies, equipment and venue rentals that sustain the arts programs. “It’s not the academic piece, it’s all of the other pieces that are part of a high-end, nationally recognized visual and performing arts school,” said Iraida Mendez-Cartaya, an associate superintendent at the Miami-Dade school district who lobbies in Tallahassee on the district’s behalf.

The school is operated by the Miami-Dade school district in collaboration with Miami Dade College and the University of Florida.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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