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Sept. 20, 2010

Music department struggles with funding

by Melodi Anahtar, Editor-in-Chief
Blairís music department is dealing with a lack of funding this year after Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) made several budget cuts. The fine arts department, of which the music department is a subdivision, has around a 34 percent lower budget this school year than last, according to fine arts resource teacher Sara Josey.

Members of the Honors Jazz Ensemble practice during the sixth period class. Molly Ellison
Members of the Honors Jazz Ensemble practice during the sixth period class.
The limited funding this year has posed problems for the music department, which still needs money to purchase new instruments, equipment and music scores for its various classes.

On July 1, school departments received funds to use throughout the year. Josey divided the money granted to the fine arts equally among the department's variety of classes, all of which are rooted in music and visual arts. The teachers then worked with their allocated funds to define their own budgets and spend according to their needs in preparation for the new school year.

Daryl Clark, who teaches Guitar, Honors Symphonic Band, Advanced Placement (AP) Music Theory and Concert Orchestra, felt that the department needs much more money in order to provide adequate equipment and education. He estimated that $8,000 for music and $10,000 in repairs are needed for his classes alone. These numbers exclude the replacements for instruments, such as the department's tuba, and equipment that is also needed. "As for new replacements, you do the math," Clark said.

Norma Rahim poses with a guitar used in the Guitar 1 and 2 classes. Melodi Anahtar
Norma Rahim poses with a guitar used in the Guitar 1 and 2 classes.
Nora Rahim, who teaches Guitar, Honors Chamber Choir and Chorus, said that she will use personal funds to purchase any extra materials needed for her classes. "If I needed to buy music scores or robes for the choir," Rahim said, "just like any other department, I have to do the funding." Rahim also specified the need for new performing guitars. With 40 students in her intermediate guitar class, the cost of getting new guitars would be around $8,000. Rahim believes the department will have enough money to be able to replace all the guitars in two or three years.

Despite the budget cuts, Josey is confident that teachers within the department are working well within the budget while maintaining a rigorous curriculum. "Are we affected by the budget cuts? Yes, but my teachers are creative and resourceful and have willingly taken on the challenge to 'do more with less' so our program is not compromised in any way," she said.



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  • Conti Corry (View Email) on September 21, 2010 at 3:05 PM
    This story shows why it is especially important for Blair music students and parents to become involved in BBOPS (music patrons group) fundraising activities this year. We have a very active BBOPS group which has raised many thousands of dollars over the past few years to supplement the ever-shrinking county budget for arts programs. Look for more information on back- to- school night and join us!
  • AHHHHHHHHH (View Email) on September 21, 2010 at 5:12 PM
    I found it interesting that you didn't talk at all about BBOPs (Blair Band and Orchestra Parents). BBOPs is where the instrumental program gets a majority of their funding for everything from sheet music to repairs to field trips. The country has never been able to get enough funding to the band and orchestra programs and BBOPs has worked hard to close that gap.

    p.s Hey Ava!
  • A parent-member of BBOPs on September 21, 2010 at 7:53 PM
    The Blair Band and Orchestra Patrons booster group has been around for years and provides serious money to Blair's instrumental music program. Why didn't you even mention the group or interview any of the parents involved?
  • por que (View Email) on September 21, 2010 at 10:01 PM
    BBOPs comments get trollier as one scrolls down the page... just sayin.
  • a on September 24, 2010 at 10:05 PM
    horribly written article
  • quod on September 30, 2010 at 6:55 PM
    I would get trollier too if I wasn't mentioned in an article where I clearly should be.
  • alksjfoiawhg on October 1, 2010 at 10:22 PM
    HOP OFF BBOPS NOONE LIKES YOU
    ALL YOU DO IS WHINE
  • y on October 10, 2010 at 1:27 PM
    ^ yesss. i agree
    please grow up and stop attacking a HIGH SCHOOLER
  • hypocritical anyone? on November 6, 2010 at 11:24 PM
    ^ talk about getting trollie


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