Board votes to restore elementary music program

March 18, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Board votes to restore elementary music program

Bowing to a campaign led by teachers and parents, the Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to return an instrumental music program to elementary schools.

The school board voted 3-2 in favor of a 1998-99 school year budget that includes $295,200 for the music program.

Board members Robert L. Kline, Andrew Humphreys and B. Marie Byers voted for the $108.5 million budget. Members Edwin Hayes and Doris J. Nipps voted against the spending plan.

Nipps and Hayes declined to comment on the budget after the meeting.

To fund the instrumental music program, and some other unfunded projects, board members shifted $415,159 that had been earmarked to pay for installation of a wide area network for Internet service in the district's schools. They also increased the budget's bottom line by $274,000 over a previous budget proposal.


A public hearing on the budget will be held Thursday night, after which it will go to the Washington County Commissioners for consideration.

In recent weeks, supporters of instrumental music had turned up at school board meetings to make the case for restoration of the program.

Members of the Washington County Alliance for Elementary Instrumental Music said teaching children how to play instruments not only introduces them to the arts but leads to higher test scores.

The instrumental music program was eliminated from Washington County elementary schools in 1995 after principals argued it interfered with regular classes.

Byers said she listened to the organization and decided "this is the year to support the alliance."

"I really appreciate the work the three board members have done. I just hope the commissioners see the importance of funding the total budget," said Rob Hovermale, a teacher and member of the alliance.

The plan adopted by the board puts enough money aside for eight teachers, the number the alliance was requesting. Six will be band teachers and two will instruct students on stringed instruments.

Under a new proposal, the music classes are not expected to interfere with other subjects because times will be rotated, which means no class will be constantly interrupted by the courses, said Byers.

Students in fourth and fifth grades will choose between string and band classes. There will be at least one 30-minute class a week.

The proposal was one of five given to the board for review. They ranged from a $405,900 proposal that would have funded 11 teachers to a $110,000 plan, under which three music teachers could have been hired.

The Herald-Mail Articles