From Chris Clark, CEO/Founder, The SMART Foundation
March 10, 2010:
Last night I attended the SVUSD Board meeting with a friend and Colleague Pat Wayne, the Director of Programs and Education for Arts Orange County. Our purpose for attending the meeting was to address the School Board members regarding an item on their proposed cut list; the elimination of the elementary instrumental music programs. The meeting was packed with parents, community members and music teachers all ready to make presentations on behalf of the students.
SVUSD is facing the same drastic budget cuts that districts throughout California and the US are being forced to address; they have to cut $33 million dollars which represents more than 10% of their annual budget.
After a lengthy budget update, and as we prepared to make our presentations, the Superintendant made a surprise announcement; he told the Board that through moving these funds here and those funds there (a layman’s explanation) his staff had come up with a proposal to keep the elementary music programs. The Board responded by accepting the initial proposal stating they agreed to move forward based on the parent and community commitment to music education.
A Miracle… Not Hardly!
This decision from the Board was made through the committed efforts of arts organizations such as Arts Orange County, The Pacific Symphony Organization and others providing program and advocacy support, through the 4th District PTA developing an Arts Advocate Leadership program, and the SMART Foundation providing support and funding directly to the schools. The decision was also bolstered through county and state wide support from companies such as Boeing, the Hewlett Foundation, the Orange County Department of Education, and the CA Alliance for the Arts.
Gathering all of this support didn’t happen overnight, it started a few years ago with a handful of parents and community members who were concerned over the developing trends facing education. We wanted to make sure that our children would continue to have the opportunity to gain from the benefits of a music and arts education.
Although we are celebrating this victory, we know that the battle is long from over. We also understand the need to share the process of this victory with our neighboring school districts. We have plugged one whole in a sinking ship; we as advocates for music education need to work together if we are ultimately going to “right” the ship.