As you may know, there is a proposal before the Astoria School District Budget Committee to change the way band classes are offered that will dramatically affect the program. The proposal is to move the Marching Band and the Winter Ensemble (also a marching program) to extracurricular activities.
If this happens, it will likely spell the end of both of these groups in our schools. The proposal removes the classes from the class load for the band teacher, reducing salary costs by $7,000. This is the only benefit for the district.
For some time now, the Astoria Band Boosters has been paying nearly all expenses outside teacher salary for all band programs in the district to the tune of more than $20,000 annually. How much can we expect this volunteer organization to do?
This community has benefited in ways it doesnt even know from these performance groups. The Astoria marching ensembles are well respected and admired throughout the Northwest for their high level of performance and quality, consistently placing in the top three groups against schools and programs up to five times their size.
Plus they are in demand locally to perform for community events such as the Columbia Crossing, Regatta, Crab Festival, Cruise Ships and Fourth of July parades. This year, the Marching Band will represent Astoria in the Rose Festival Starlight Parade.
In addition to improving their musicality, the students also improve their physical condition and learn valuable skills in leadership, teamwork, self-discipline and responsibility. Do we really want to lose this valuable experience for the kids and wonderful community resource?
I urge everyone to write Superintendent Craig Hoppes at CHoppes@astoria.k12.or.us to encourage him to find other options. The Budget Committee will meet Tuesday to consider the proposal.