To the collective disappointment of the assembled crowd, the School Committee and Administration chose not to reinstate the budget line item for the middle school strings teacher at last night's School Committee meeting. Superintendent Antonucci also stated that strings was not among his top priorities this year and that any additional monies from the state would be applied in other areas first.
Striking a more positive note, Superintendent Antonucci indicated that the strings program would continue to be offered during middle school X-block twice a week through a partnership with the Prodigy Program. The bad news is that his preliminary figures suggest that the position will cost about $6,000 and that the full cost would be borne by the strings families. Assuming that all 26 orchestra players in the incoming 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes continue with orchestra (and we certainly hope they do) this will cost each family an additional $231 in user fees.
Obviously, our work is not yet done. We need to continue to encourage our school administrators to see the true value in Westwood's strings program. We need to remain actively engaged in the budget process early on to protect our interests. And we need to look for ways to fund our strings program that won't rely entirely on an unpredictable school budget process.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who turned out last night to support our strings program and to everyone who has visited SaveOurStringsProgram.com and voiced their opinion. Through our continuing action I am confident that, over time, we can achieve our goals.
- John Craine