Santa Barbara Unified School District was, once again, honored with the 2018 Best Communities for Music Education designation from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This designation is the latest example of Santa Barbara Unified’s efforts to lead the way in offering music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. The renowned music programs in Santa Barbara Unified schools serve as a source of pride for our district.
There have been questions in recent days about cuts to music programs in our schools. We want to make it clear that there are no proposed budget cuts to any of our music programs for the upcoming school year.
Here are some facts about our music programs:
• 100 percent of Santa Barbara Unified elementary school students receive weekly music instruction from credentialed music teachers.
• In junior high school and high school, students choose their own electives. Music is one of a variety of specialized elective programs among others like theater arts, visual arts, world languages, and career technical education courses.
• To coordinate and meet staffing needs at all of our schools, the district meets weekly to review and adjust staffing needs in all courses that students sign up for, regardless of what department that course resides in.
• There are no layoffs for current staffing, nor other reductions in support, for music programs at any of our schools for the 2018-2019 year.
• There are a limited number of junior high and high school music programs that are undersubscribed, resulting in significant discrepancies in staffing support between our schools.
• The district Coordinator for Special Programs, Kimberly Hoj, works with all of our Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) teachers as well as our Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers to support robust, high quality programs that are available to all students. Hoj actively supports VAPA teachers to develop outreach plans during professional development days and on an ongoing basis.
Ultimately, we want to ensure that there is integrity between a student’s interest and motivation and their elective choices. We believe that a healthy variety of elective offerings are essential for students to connect meaningfully with curriculum, teachers, and fellow students at their school. We support the ongoing work of all elective teachers and programs to engage students with culturally relevant, collaborative and challenging educational outcomes to prepare them for a world beyond high school. As a result, we will continue to remain engaged in conversation about how to establish equity of available resources in specialized programs between all of our schools.
Lauren Bianchi Klemann is public information officer for Santa Barbara Unified School District.