Letter to Board Members from Brenda Lisle

Dear Board Member,

I am a bit disheartened that there continues to be a great misunderstanding of the full ramifications of the 2012-2013 Beaverton School District budget that was passed on June 4th.  It has been made clear through the past two School Board meetings that, especially as it pertains to the music program, that the board has passed a budget that makes cuts (or “reductions”, since this is the term you are so adamant in using) in which you do not fully understand.  For example, Southridge’s High School Jazz Band was stated as being cut due to low student interest when in fact 21 students is a healthy number for this specialty area. With the proposed class size of 40+ students, they would be disqualified from any competition.  I believe you also did not understand that due to the current budget cuts/reductions, there is an elementary school within the district whose students will not see their music teacher but once every 8 school days, cutting/reducing the music teacher’s lesson plans from 76 down to 20.  To hear that there were some board members who were not aware of this until after the fact astounds me that you can still justify this budget, standing behind it as if there are no other options.  You still have options, as creating and maintaining a budget is a fluid process and allows for changes throughout the year.  I would like to remind you that it is not set in stone unless you allow it to be.

Leann Larsen made the comment during the June 18th meeting that the music program was not being “cut” but “reduced,” and that the music program will stay in tact.  To reduce the program is to diminish in size, to narrow down: restrict.  Whether you choose to use the term “reduce” or “cut,” the results will still be the same unless actions are taken to prioritize this proven program for the whole education of our children within the Beaverton School District.  What has not been made clear is if the Board has plans on reinstating and strengthening the BSD’s K-12 music program to its current levels or more once funds become available.  Whether this is made through the reallocation of funds of the current budget allocations, funding from the state or local levy, or, as one of my favorite band director puts it- from a “magical pot of leprechaun gold.”

I strongly feel that there needs to be a plan in place, that this is only a temporary and unsustainable solution to the problem. Please prioritize our beloved programs that enrich the whole child.  Music makes a difference in our children’s lives and education.  I do not understand how you can justify adding in new, unproven programs into a school year’s budget where beloved, proven programs that educate the whole child are being cut/reduced to devastating tolls.  Not only are you cutting/reducing the music program for each grade level (elementary, middle school and high school), you will also be creating an irreversible disruption to all students at every level.

Not only do I feel this way, but all of the students, parents, teachers and community members who have shown up wearing red and/or emailed their concerns directly to you feel this way as well.  It is a complete slap in the face to have the majority of the board refuse to take into account what common themes have been said- that this is the beginning of the end of a program we once took pride in.  That once these cuts/reductions take place, it is almost a certain path to elimination as shown in previous results not only in other school districts that have made similar cuts, but in our own school district as well.

I am raising my daughter to the best of my abilities.  I teach her the life lessons that I think will be most valuable in aiding her to be the best person she can be.  Music is a big part in that.  I am teaching her that at the end of the day, it does not matter what everyone else did.  It matters what she did.  I am teaching her to be accountable for her own actions.  I am teaching her the important lesson of “everything you say and do, defines who you are and who you will become.”

I ask this question to the Beaverton School District as a whole- is this who the BSD wants to become?  A district that disregards what the students, parents, teachers and community has voiced so loudly?  A district that is willing to reduce/cut beloved and proven programs in order to introduce new programs at a time when funds are limited?  A School Board who says their hands are tied because they lack State funding and passes the blame to the community members because of a levy that was voted down due to taxpayers feeling they simply just cannot pay anymore taxes during these trying times, not to mention that the exact nature of the cuts were not revealed until recently- causing this alarm in the community.  The School Board and Budget Committee needs to be able to work within the funds allotted no matter how tough the situation might be.  Are you here representing what you should be- a School District that takes pride in excellence and achievement?  Are you representing the children of our schools to the best of your abilities giving them the tools and resources to succeed?

The children have spoken, quite eloquently I might add.  The parents have spoken.  The teachers have spoken.  The community members have spoken.  DO NOT CUT/REDUCE OUR MUSIC PROGRAM TO THE LEVELS YOU INTEND. MUSIC MAKES A DIFFERENCE.

Thank you for your time.  Please take action for the sake of our children’s education.  Our children are our future.  They are worth the investment.

Sincerely,

Brenda Lisle

 

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