Last year at this time Fresno Unified School District had eliminated the music program. As the new school year gets into full swing the sound of music has returned to this town. Let's hope this is a trend that catches on in California!
On Wednesday, the Fresno Unified school board will hear how teachers are restoring the music program, including the addition of weekly classroom lessons for first-graders. The district is trying out such general music lessons at 11 schools in hopes of getting trustees to approve more funding next year to expand instruction to other grades.
Elementary music was eliminated during budget cuts for the 2004-05 school year and high schools had some music funding trimmed. The district was able to bring back the $3.4 million program this year, after reaching contract agreements with employee unions to cap health care costs.
Kate Wippern, Fresno Unified's music coordinator, said restoration got a slow start. She's still working to find and repair instruments placed in storage so elementary schools can recreate band or orchestra, and she's still working to find enough music teachers because many left during the year hiatus. She said some middle schools don't have enough interested students or room in their class schedules for music to re-establish a band program.