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Parents Talk: Should Music Programs Be Cut During School Budget Reductions?

As some school districts struggle with budget reductions, elementary music programs might be the first areas cut.

It has become a common scenario across many Twin City school districts. 

No passage of an operating levy in November equals a spring of budget reductions. 

Some school boards have been considering cutting some of the music programs out of their district offerings. 

A recommendation in District 834 to cut fifth- and sixth-grade instrumental music programs to save $300,000 if a November levy doesn’t pass brought criticism from the Stillwater Area High School Orchestra Director. 

“The elementary cost center’s suggestion appears disingenuous and may lack the integrity that the Stillwater community expects from its schools and from its School Board,” Stillwater Area High School Orchestra Director Jerry Jones said. “This elimination looks as though it is only effecting the fifth and sixth grade, where in fact it would eliminate the entire program in time.” 

As part of a two-year $11 million budget reductions in the Osseo School District, following a failed operating levy request last November, it is being proposed to cut fifth grade orchestra. 

School funding continues to be a hot button issue throughout Minnesota, such as  – some school districts claiming funding formulas are unfair

When school boards decide where to cut money – should music programs receive the ax? 

I’m torn. I’ve had two children in a school district several years ago when millions of dollars in budget cuts took place. As a parent – it was tough experience. You ask yourself, “What do I think should be cut?” 

There are no easy answers. 

Should students, schools and staff face the music and expect a possible future without music programs? Or, should school boards find other areas to cut?  Should anything be “off the table” when it comes to school budget reductions?

Share your thoughts in comments.

Deb C March 01, 2013 at 12:04 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/22/top-10-skills-children-learn-from-the-arts/
Lynn Bottge March 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM
I totally agree with Deb C.
PBD March 01, 2013 at 06:57 PM
5th and 6th grade is an important time to interest children in music and performance. They are becoming more self aware and interested in general, and it would be a shame to deny them the exposure. I'd like to see a comparison with the sports budget...I've felt for years that there is always money for yet another sports facility, while the arts are always on the chopping block. Both should be a priority. Let's have another vote. I think people voted last time thinking about all the ways we get nickel and dimed, and didn't see that those funds were for us in our immediate community. Even if you don't have kids, you should appreciate living somewhere the kids are well-rounded. Lastly, in specific regard to Stillwater, where both sports and music are strongly supported, we shouldn't cut off something that brings our community so much pride. I understand what Mr. Jones meant. No 5th grade musicians means less 12th grade musicians, plain and simple. But I have nothing to offer about what to cut...Lower the thermostat? :)
Markus March 02, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Charge a user fee. Those that want a music program pay, those that don't want to be in a music program are off the hook. Same with sports. Why should your neighbor have to pay for your kid to take music lessons or to play sports? PBD wrote: "Let's have another vote" Oh, we'll have another vote. Be assured of that. The school district, and it's apologists (including the teacher's union) will wage an all out "For The Kids" campaign to get their grubby paws deeper in your pockets. Like all government there is never enough for these people They need to practice some austerity like most families and businesses that have had to cut back in recent years. Why should they get a raise when everyone else is getting a cut? If they're going to cut anything it should be the subsidized daycare program otherwise referred to as ECFE. That would be a start.
AAJ March 02, 2013 at 05:07 PM
For many parents, they pay a users fee for anything outside school hours. Arts and sports. If we want parents to pay a users fee for music during school hours, then should we also suggest that they should pay a users fee to learn how play baseball in gym class? And we struggle enough to keep gym in the elementary schools. For every piece of printed material we touch, it passed through an artist's hands. Magazines, books, newspapers, most items you buy at the grocery store. Every box of cereal, jar of pasta sauce. Every time we turn on the radio, and listen to music we hear an artist. They got their start somewhere. Every time we turn on the TV or go to the movies we see and hear artists. Actresses and actors, graphic artists that create the titles, and the music that keep us riveted to the screen. I paid every time my child participated in school theatre, on stage or back stage. I am sure I paid more per year than the football player at the high school, and I am ok with that. The exposure had to start somewhere. I am also a supporter of sports. Kids should have the opportunity to be exposed to sports, and be allowed to play. Yes, I have paid for my child to participate. And still do. We need to produce well rounded students, well rounded adults. To think outside the box, and that not everything is black and white. Great teachers inspire. And the music teachers I know inspire their students.
B. Martin March 02, 2013 at 05:22 PM
All skills that can be learned outside of the arts as well; just a different platform.
Don Stiff March 06, 2013 at 12:59 AM
Can the district hold fund raisers or grants to save the Music programs. We need smart fund raising people to step up . I wish I had that skill to help.
mary kosters March 06, 2013 at 02:42 PM
All I know for sure is that putting more apartments up in Edina will put more demand on our school districts. The fall out will be an education system making decisions only by the dollars and not made by "common sense." Can you really imagine your own education without the Arts--We might as well go back to the caves--even in caves they had art..Another sad day for Edina..
Arnie March 13, 2013 at 12:08 AM
Burnsville-Savage School district is thinking about canceling the orchestra program. Support is needed to save the program. Contact your school board with your concern.
Arnie March 13, 2013 at 12:16 AM
One of the schools with possible cuts is Harriet Bishop School for Gifted and Talented.
Randy Marsh March 13, 2013 at 01:14 AM
You mean in addition to all the other countless fundraisers constantly underway? You're just robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Randy Marsh March 13, 2013 at 01:16 AM
They should lose money just for having such an arrogant name for their school. I'd be more likely to lobby for the Harriet Bishop School for Average and Unspectacular, after all, they need it more.
mary kosters March 13, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Have you viewed the new Hockey locker at Braemar??? I have an idea-- let's eliminate the Department of Education and the Teacher's Union and let the people of Edina run their own school. Since there is plenty of money to support the hockey needs-thru Boosters, private enterprise----If we want to compete with the world we better get on the same playing field--Spend money where it helps the children--not the unions and administration and overhead. Wasn't there a time in American History that the Department of Education did NOT exist?? That certainly isn't written about in the AP American History book---Have you read that lately---certianly is not the History I learned 35 years at Edina. How does History change?
Heyitsme April 26, 2013 at 08:12 PM
I can imagine education without the arts; the money was spent on teaching Math, English, Social Studies and Science; otherwise know as core educational blocks or basics. Why should the majority pay for curriculum that few get to participate in (talking about music and arts in the secondary school levels)?
Edward April 26, 2013 at 09:25 PM
The arts are the best platform. While my kids were growing up I tried numerous programs inside and outside of the school. The one thing that consistently kept them engaged and challenged was music. Nothing else came close to continuously challenging them intellectually and allowing them to develop at their own pace.
ABSG April 27, 2013 at 01:01 PM
YOU PLAY = YOU PAY = 100% Its time sports and other extra curricular activities are removed and privatized to either the cities, private organizations or businesses. I 100% agree with Markus - why should I have to pay for my neighbors kid to play a sport? How ludicrous is that? How about I pay gas money to so his parents can drive him to all this stuff 4 nights a week? Seriously - Why stop at just the fee? How about I help pay for the food your soon to be pro athelete needs? It's time some of you wake up .... The Free ride is over! The districts have so severely mismanaged years and years of funds now they are just stuck in a cycle of begging! We need to choke off the begging at some point and not just with school districts either .... we need to choke off this moronic notion of spreading the wealth garbage at the State and Federal level as well. All of you people that think some else should have to pay need a wake up call. There is just not enough money to go around!
Mike B. April 27, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Public schools should be eliminated, or at the very least parents should be charged for the actual costs so that the schools break even without any tax dollars. Our property taxes would go way down. Why should I pay for educating someone else's kids? And even worse, paying for their recreational activities? Catholic and private schools are the models we should strive for. Education should follow the free enterprise model in our country. Free education is not a "right."
Mike B. April 27, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Don't contact the school board! Have the parents pay for the orchestra themselves! No more freeloading from the general population for the activities of parents and their kids.
jody siefert May 18, 2013 at 08:32 AM
Let's go back to privatizing schools. Our children are becoming victims of a political battleground. Everyone wants their mind. They are our children, not the the government's children. Let's go back to classical education so we can stop the madness of using text books that interpret 10 other interpretations. Let's read from the source, create thinkers, not sheep.
Mike B. May 18, 2013 at 09:53 AM
You are correct, Jody. This country would be much better off if each and every school was private, and run like a business. The students would receive a better education at less money. And the students would not be indoctrinated with all this P.C. garbage that is being thrown in their faces. As it is, everything except the three R's are being taught in schools. And history has been whitewashed beyond recognition. George Washington is reduced in history books to a couple of sentences, but to be politically correct, George Washington Carver is given three pages.

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