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MUSIC EDUCATION

$1.25 million injects new life in music program

Kate Dubinski

By Kate Dubinski, The London Free Press

(QMI Agency file photo)

(QMI Agency file photo)

It’s not the usual tune school boards sing.

Budget time usually comes with warnings of possible program and staff cuts and tricky math to balance the books.

Often, the balance comes at the expense of music and arts programs.

Not so with the Thames Valley District school board, that will spend $1.25 million to replace aging musical instruments. The upgrade was included in the board’s $822-million budget for 2013-14.

“This is a significant investment in music programming across the school district,” trustee and budget chair Jennifer Coglin said.

The board asked music teachers and department heads about the state of their equipment and were painted a bleak picture — 87% of instruments in board high schools are more than 20 years old.

High-end instruments last an average of 10 to 15 years, the board heard, with average-quality instruments lasting between four and 10 years.

Each year for the next five years, $500,000 will be spent to replace the instruments.

“Our trustees have always been very supportive of the arts,” program services superintendent Laura Elliott said. “It’s always been a priority. When we do the budget we look at some of the funds that may be surplus and we look at where they can be used. In this case our attention was drawn to the musical instruments.”

Between 2008 and 2011, the Thames Valley board got $600,000 in provincial funding to ensure all Grade 7 and 8 pupils receive instrumental music instruction.


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