With all the budget problems the state is having, school districts are having to be more creative in how they keep certain elective programs going, such as music.
At the Pioneer and Mountain Creek schools, a group called the Parent Music Coalition (PMC) is facing the prospect that the entire music program for elementary and middle school students may be eliminated in the future if they don’t raise enough money to keep it going.
John Sanguinetti, who is a special education teacher at the schools and a member of PMC, said that over the past eight years the group has raised $66,000, which has been held as a reserve. But they will need to intensify their efforts in the years ahead, depending upon what the district does to fill the hole left by budget cuts at the state level. Next year they are covered because the district and PMC will split the cost of hiring a music teacher and they hope the district will do the same the following school year. But after that, they are on their own and they will have to raise the entire amount needed to hire a teacher.
“We’re two years out from being dissolved,” stated Sanguinetti. “In the past we didn’t have to dip into reserves. Now we will. I don’t know how we’re going to raise $66,000 a year for the program.”
As part of their ongoing efforts to keep the music program going, on Wednesday night, May 16, PMC is putting on a concert.
Called “Save the Music,” it features individual musicians playing while people dine on hot dogs or barbecue. Then from 6:30 to around 8:30 p.m there will be a student concert featuring a jazz band, two concert bands, and a high school band. They will also hold a raffle and auction off items including a cord of wood. Everyone in the community is invited.
The group puts on other fund aising events during the year as well including an annual talent show, selling See’s Candies, and making tiles which students decorate and mount on the school walls for $25.
Sanguinetti said that if the music program is disbanded at the elementary and middle school level, then high schools will, by default, become the beginner music programs.
“We use the middle school program to funnel kids into high school programs. This will also affect music scholarships for children in the future. There are a lot of great opportunities in high school and college, but middle school music instruction is needed to prepare them. All that is at risk if the middle school program doesn’t do what it’s done traditionally.”
At present the music program at Pioneer and Mountain Creek consists of individual instruction for students k through grade 4, a beginning band for students in grade 5, an intermediate band for students in grades 6 and 7, an advanced band for students in grades 7 and 8, and a jazz band.
The teacher also hopes the concert does more than just raise money.
“PMC also needs more members. Participation has waxed and waned over the years. When we first formed, we got off to a great start. But we only have a three-year window to get parents at the elementary school level involved. Things are a lot more serious now. The more folks we get involved, the better the chance to keep it going. It’s almost a membership drive. We need their ideas and labor.”
Sanguinetti, who has three children in the district, said that “smaller districts are at greater risk to lose these programs because we’re rural and have a smaller number of children. This story affects all of El Dorado County because a lot of the districts are in this position.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.