Monday, April 14, 2008

AME stands up for Rapid City School Music

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Advocates for Music Education (AME) Strongly Oppose
Cuts to Elementary School Music




Advocates for Music Education Media Contacts:
Jane Pfeifle
Tel: (605) 343-6963 or 484-1558
Kenny Putnam
Tel: (605) 390-8804
saveschoolmusic@yahoo.com

RAPID CITY, April 14, 2008 -- Our Rapid City School District Administration, in response to budget shortfalls, has proposed eliminating the first two years of orchestra and the first year of band. Advocates for Music Education (AME) strongly opposes this recommendation.

1) The facts say it all--thirty years of case studies prove eliminating one year of elementary instrumental music will decrease the number of students in the middle and high school music programs by half in four years! The current recommendation of eliminating all elementary instrumental music will effectively eliminate all instrumental music as we know it.

This is exactly what happened when Lead/Deadwood eliminated 5th grade band. The number of students involved in High School music dropped by half within four years.

School administrators estimate saving $160,000 per year through this cut (4% of the estimated $4,000,000 shortage). This cut will not have the desired effect. John Benham, an independent consultant hired by concerned citizens the last time this cut was proposed, demonstrated these cuts will cost the school system $150,000 per year, not save it.

How can this cut cost the District money? Benham pointed out that:

a) One half of the students in middle and high school who are no longer involved in instrumental music will have to be absorbed in other, smaller, classes, creating larger class sizes or need for more staff.

b) Local private schools have created quality elementary music programs in order to compete with the outstanding music program in the public schools. If public schools eliminate the music programs, many parents may well decide to send their children to private schools or home school. It would only take 36 kids transferring out of public school to eat up the proposed savings ($4,500 is the current per student allocation). Presently there are approximately 726 elementary students benefiting from the music program.

c) Music is one of the few areas where one teacher can teach more than 30 students at a time. A 1.0 FTE music teacher is equivalent to a 1.4 classroom teacher. The music teacher has a significant financial value.

d) Much of what brings new business expansion to our community is our quality of education. Most of those in management making decisions to come in to an area inquire about the quality of the education, wanting the best opportunities for their children and the children of their employees. A strong music program is one of the hallmarks of an excellent school system.

Advocates for Music Education (AME) is a coalition made up of parents and community members who support a strong and vital music education program. AME believes music education is essential and not expendable or extraneous. For more information email saveschoolmusic@yahoo.com.

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