Revised Vancouver school budget fails to rescue band and strings program

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      The fate of a program that teaches Vancouver elementary students how to play in a musical ensemble has become bleaker.

      A revised budget released Tuesday (April 19) fell short of saving the band and strings program in 44 schools.

      The new plan maintained a previous proposal to remove the equivalent of 5.86 full-time positions for itinerant music teachers.

      The termination of the band and strings program will save the district $400,000, reducing a projected budget shortfall for school year 2016-2017.

      According to school board chair Mike Lombardi, it’s now up to trustees to make the move to keep the program.

      “Trustees can make changes to the budget proposals, and then they’ll have to vote for it,” Lombardi told the Straight in a phone interview.

      That would mean taking away $400,000 from another program to save band and strings instruction.

      “Or they can say I move the band and strings program stay, and the parents be charged $500 a year,” Lombardi said.

      Families of children participating in the program currently pay $50. Previously, the fee was $25.

      Under the revised budget, the athletic coordinator as well as the fine and performing arts coordinator will keep their jobs.

      The new budget also reduced cuts that were originally intended on various teaching positions. These include secondary school teachers.

      The board will vote on the budget on April 28. It has to deliver a balanced budget as required by the Education Act.

      “All the cuts are unpalatable,” Lombardi said.

      If the revised budget is supported by the board, there will be no more anti-homophobia and anti-racism mentors.

      Also on the chopping block are two multicultural liaison workers that help immigrant families with children in the school system.