San Diego

Local High School Band Holds Concert to Rally Support For Music Teachers

A budget that was tentatively approved back in March, includes roughly $125 million in cuts.

San Diego’s Unified School District (SDUSD) is facing a multi-million dollar deficit and soon, several schools could feel the pinch.

On Tuesday afternoon, the marching band from University City High School (UCHS) played in front of San Diego’s Board of Education building. The band gave an impromptu concert to support elementary school music teachers who are facing layoffs.

“Downsizing these kind of programs will weaken those that are upper in the chain, like middle school, high school,” said Aidan Hall, a junior at UCHS. "They won't have as much of an experience.”

A budget that was tentatively approved back in March, includes roughly $125 million in cuts.

According to SDUSD, there is no easy way to move forward.

“The elementary instrumental music positions were just not able to sustain as many [employees],” said Russ Sperling, Director of the SDUSD's Visual and Performing Arts Department. “But that doesn't mean that there isn't going to be arts and music in every school. We’ll make it work.”

Close to 1,000 teachers faced layoffs when the budget was tentatively approved by the Board of Trustees. Many took the option of retiring early.

The board hopes that ultimately layoffs will drop to about 100 people -- 13 of them, potentially, from elementary school music programs.

“We are optimistic that most, if not all our music teachers, will be able to stay with us,” Sperling told NBC 7. “But maybe they will be hired for different positions.”

But students fear that cuts in elementary school music programs will have a domino effect that will downplay their programs in the future.

"Music in elementary schools is really important,” said UCHS student Robyn Wilkinson. “Everyone I know started in elementary school and music. It brings you this whole community."

The school board told NBC 7, it’s trying to work things out.

“That's something we'll have to strategize with middle school teachers,” said Sperling. “If we have students coming in 6th grade and they haven't had band or orchestra choir in middle school, then we'll have to have some beginning courses available.”

The final version of the budget is scheduled to be approved on June 27.

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