Parents of music students in the Upper Dublin School District are quite concerned about the impact of proposed cuts to the school district budget.
A preliminary budget presented to the Upper Dublin School Board on Monday, Jan. 14 shows a $2.8 million budget shortfall for the upcoming school year. To balance the school budget, wide, sweeping cuts in faculty and programs are being proposed. One potential cut under consideration involves the demotion of the entire faculty of the school district music program to part time positions. This would include band, choir, and orchestra faculty at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The Upper Dublin Marching Band Parents Association (UDMBPA) is worried about the staggering impact of such cuts on the quality of music education in the Upper Dublin schools. It fears that a part time faculty could mean the loss of countless high quality music programs that are points of pride for the entire Upper Dublin community.
A The UDMBPA will host a public meeting tonight to advocate for music education in the Upper Dublin school district. The discussion will include the implications of the proposed budget cuts with an eye towards identifying alternative and creative solutions that may preserve and protect the district's music programs.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Upper Dublin High School Cafeteria at 800 Loch Alsh Ave. in Fort Washington. The meeting is open to the entire community, parents, grandparents, students, alumni, and anyone interested in the future of music education in Upper Dublin.
Parents of current and future elementary, middle and high school students, and parents of students in the choral, band and orchestra music programs are especially encouraged to attend. Chris Dowdell, president of the UDMBPA said “Luckily, the budget proposal is still ‘preliminary,’ and can still be influenced by community input.” It is hoped that the community can find another way to meet the current budget crisis without damaging the music program."
Marching Band parents certainly know first hand the huge number of hours devoted by the music faculty to supporting quality music programs in Upper Dublin. Music parents are concerned that the music faculty will not be able to sustain that level of involvement if they are worried about shoring up their own family financial security. Faculty members may have to take on outside work on evenings and weekends to make up for their lost income and benefits. This would mean that they would no longer be available to sponsor the wide array of music ensembles and music programs that are currently the pride of the district. The music program would be reduced to school day classroom instruction in a smaller number of classes. Music programs that rehearse and perform outside of school hours could disappear.
The following are just a few of the programs that could be impacted by the loss of faculty time: Upper Dublin Marching Cardinals, UD Swing Jazz Band, the Men's, Women's, Chamber and Show Choirs, VOX Jazz Choir, Pit Orchestra, Sophisticated Strings, Indoor Color Guard and Indoor Drumline.
The lack of faculty sponsors could mean that Upper Dublin would no longer be able to participate in or host high visibility music programs such as the Montgomery County Honor's Band on either the middle or high school levels or the Spectacle in Sound Marching Band Competition. The competitions that celebrate our most accomplished musicians would be unavailable: District, Region, and State Band, District, Region, and State Orchestra, and Suburban and District Choir. These are the ensembles that future music and performance majors need on their transcripts to find placements at top college music programs.
Several research studies confirm that the study of music influences the development of the growing child's brain and is associated with innovative thinking, spatial reasoning, and creative problem solving, skills that will be prized in the workforce of the future. An analysis of College Board data has shown a strong correlation between arts education and higher SAT scores. Students who participated in arts education for four or more years had combined SAT scores 101 points higher than students who did not participate in arts education.
The UDMBPA notes that every student in the district currently benefits from exposure and access to the study of music each year from kindergarten onwards through high school. Furthermore, the Upper Dublin School District was recently named tenth in the state of Pennsylvania for SAT scores among all public schools. This certainly suggests that the district's strong music program may have played a key role in the history of academic excellence in the district. The UDMBPA strongly believes that accomplishments in music have been a significant reason why Upper Dublin graduates in every discipline have consistently found themselves welcomed and rewarded by the best college programs in the country.
Written by Deborah Carver and submitted by Chris Dowdell, UDMBPA President, and Deborah Carver, UDMBPA Public Relations Secretary