Nearly a year ago, national expert Dr. John Benham was asked to analyze and explain the current status of the Music Program in MBUSD. This move was prompted by twofold budget cuts to the program - reduction in funding at the elementary level, and reductions in “low enrollment” classes at the secondary level that translated in fewer music offerings. The implementation of those budget cuts across the district marks one of the most painful moments in MBUSD’s history.
Dr. Benham’s report was published in April of 2020, and was a wakeup call to us all: If we don’t fundamentally change how we fund and support our music program, we won’t have one any longer. That report was brought to the community, and your voices were heard. The Board created a Music Subcommittee to study the issue (click HERE and go to “Music Subcommittee, What You Need to Know” to learn more).
Despite the overwhelming demands Covid placed on our teachers, administrators, Board members and community, the Music Subcommittee persisted in their mission, and their completed Report and Recommendations were made public on February 3rd. You can read the Music Report HERE, and watch the Board’s initial discussion of it HERE.
Last year, as a community, we came into the discussion too late. Decisions had already been set in motion. Valiant efforts were made by the community to push that boulder uphill, with students and parents alike pleading for highly respected and talented teachers and assistants not to be laid off and critical classes not to be cut. With respect to music, those efforts were not wholly successful. Cuts to the elementary program were never rescinded even though elementary music teachers have desperately needed that classroom support during this year of distance learning, and our youngest students could have benefitted from joyful music instruction as we weathered the Covid storm.
This year we are acting at the genesis of the budget discussions. Many of you were part of that first step - participating in the Budget Workshop on January 20th, 2021. The budget will come up again at the Board’s meeting next week (on the 24th) and we anticipate that Dr. Matthews will make his first recommendations to the board at that time. Based on Dr. Matthews’ comments during the Music Report discussion, we expect he will not be recommending additional monetary support (or FTE) for music.
If our predictions come to pass, and despite the Music Report’s findings and recommendations no additional funds for music are included in Dr. Matthews’ recommendations, we will take issue with them on the basis that in failing to support music, Dr. Matthews’ recommendations are out of step with a core priority of our community.
Our voices alone are not enough. We once again need every parent, student, community member, and music supporter who values the MBUSD Music Program to join in these efforts now.
We would never ask the community to advocate for a position without first laying before you the facts, data, research, and informed expert opinions that support it. This is the purpose of the Music Report Town Hall. We will briefly review the Music Report’s recommendations, and explain why we will be asking the Board to invest now in the music program. Then we will open the floor to all of you, and answer any questions that you may have. National expert Dr. John Benham will also be in attendance.
This is the moment all our efforts over the last year have been building to. We hope you will join in this culminating effort! To register for the Town Hall visit www.Tinyurl.com/MusicReportTownHall.
Thank you for your unwavering support of music in our schools.
Music Booster Parent Representatives to the MBUSD Board Music Subcommittee
Thank you for your unwavering support of music in our schools!