The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 26, 2011

Music plays an important tune in education

By Bridget Nash Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Thousands of Enid Public Schools students are enriched each day through the district’s music program, but are those students affected by budgetary woes as public education is dealing with cuts in funding?

“Yes and no,” said Robert Anderson, Enid High School band director, department head and secondary music coordinator. “Our school is still very supportive. They try to give us everything they can.”

However, there have been cuts — the music program received a 60-percent reduction in funding along with other areas such as athletics and competitive speech.

That cuts deep into contest fees, instrument repairs and sheet music purchases, Anderson said.

“What we’re having to do different right now is we are having to use more fundraiser money and booster money,” he said.

Anderson also said department personnel are doing their own repairs when possible and using sheet music already on file.

“We’re making due with the materials we have,” Anderson said.

The district provides instruments for students to use if they do not have their own, and those are the instruments which require maintenance by the district, he said.

“We have a lot of kids that use school instruments,” he said. “It’s becoming more and more prevalent because of the cost of instruments.”

Music is part of elementary education, and the music department on the elementary level is facing the same cuts. On the middle and high school levels music courses are elective but music credits are required.

“There are studies that (show) students in music score higher in math and science on the ACTs,” said Anderson. “(With music) you learn to think a whole different way. It makes you a well-rounded person.”

Anderson said all elective school courses help the students to become well-rounded, and courses from band to choir and drama to athletics enhance the minds of students.

Even with the cuts, Anderson said he believes the music department still is fortunate.

“We have a great administration, he said. “The cuts they made they feel are necessary. Enid, in general, is an arts town.”

Anderson said Tri-State Musical festival is one way Enid continues to show its appreciation for music and young musicians.

Waukomis Public Schools

Smaller schools sometimes feel the pain of budget cuts more, but Waukomis Public Schools has not seen any cuts in the music program.

“If we cut (the music funding), we would have to completely do away with it,” said Marc Hatton, Waukomis superintendent.

The music staff is an army of one at Waukomis — Kyle Stewart teaches elementary and high school band and all music classes.

“He does great,” Hatton said. “He’s great with the little kids, and the older kids really enjoy him.”

In the midst of making hard funding decisions, such as choosing to not fill positions that have opened, the music department in Waukomis remains open for business.

“We’re like everyone else, we’re struggling, but (music) is an important thing to keep,” said Hatton.

Chisholm Public Schools

The program at Chisholm Public Schools also continues to thrive despite cuts to the education budget.

“Our program is really strong and solid,” said Roydon Tilley, superintendent.” They do raise a lot of their own money.”

Chisholm employs a music instructor at each school level: elementary, middle and high. Tilley does not anticipate cuts in those areas.

Funding for music supplies is provided through the district for the elementary music classes, and middle and high school students do fundraising work for additional costs such as contest fees, sheet music and instrument maintenance.

Chisholm High School band director Randy Johnson said fundraising has gone well this year.

“We fundraise for everything we do,” said Johnson. “It’s been pretty typical. I think we can see a little bit that people are spending less.”

“They have a band booster club that is very active,” Tilley said. “Also, we have patrons who are really willing to donate.”

A recent bond issue allowed the school to purchase $55,000 in instruments and spend $20,000 on proper instrument storage lockers.

Tilly said as the district waits to see what funding the Legislature will allow education, the staff continues to work hard with funding provided.

“I give our people credit for really working hard to maximize dollars for our kids,” he said. “I am always amazed at the resourcefulness of our people.”

The district also offers choir and guitar classes.