Group advocates $2 million for music teachers, beginning band programs

Bob King has no question that strong music programs improve student performance in seemingly unrelated areas such as science, math and engineering, but that’s not the main reason he’s passionate about the Beaverton School District re-investing in music education.

“There is a more profound reason to support strong music programs, and arts programs in general, in our schools,” he said on Tuesday night. “Music, as one of the foundational arts in all cultures — along with the visual arts and literature — provides the individual and our collective society with a shared universal language.

“Music, in all of its forms, allows us to experience the world, both inside us and around us,” he added, “as shared attempts to grasp the meaning of tragedy, triumph, sadness and joy.”

King was one of several district parents and teachers who spoke about music programs at the Superintendent Budget Listening and Learning Session held in the Beaverton High School cafeteria from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The event is the first in a regular series of casual forums for parents, teachers and administrators between now and mid-March to share ideas and concerns regarding the district’s upcoming budget negotiations.

Following a presentation from Superintendent Jeff Rose and district Financial Officer Claire Hertz about the budget process, the floor was opened to the public to ask questions and share concerns.

Rose compared the budget process following last year’s massive cuts that gutted some programs and reduced teaching staff by 344 positions to rebuilding a decimated house from the foundation up. With a proposed $680 million bond measure likely going to voters this spring, he expressed cautious optimism that music, arts and other programs were headed in a decidedly more positive direction.

“This is still not a time for us to grow cozy and comfortable,” he said. “We are building, but we still have a long way to go with where we want to be with our students and our schools.”

While a couple speakers advocated for library programs, most focused on rebuilding music offerings. The district’s newly created Music Task Force calls for an investment of a little more than $2 million to cover new instruments for beginning fifth-grade band students, 12 new, full-time general music instructors at the elementary level and 2.5 full-time equivalent band teaching positions for fifth-grade music classes.

The task force also recommends the following steps:

n Studying current music programming at the elementary, middle and high school levels in the district,

n Researching best practice models in music education,

n Examining the role of a “music supervisor” to support music programming and make recommendations about the position, and

n Reviewing and studying current practices in student and parent resource development in areas such as fundraising, booster organizations and district-wide equity of music programming.

Doug Garnett, the parent of two students in the district, was involved in the process to form the task force. On Tuesday evening, he urged administrators to implement the group’s full recommendations.

“When music education is discussed, far too often I hear suspicions that the programs are for the privileged. Nothing could be farther from the truth,” he said. “Studies clearly show that the most critical benefits of music education are academic.”

Among the specific benefits he cited were increases in graduation rates, school performance, parental involvement and test performance.

“Music trains the mind for math, science and humanities,” he said.

The task force’s challenge, Rose indicated, is to formulate a plan that reverses a long, slow decline in music and arts funding and points the district forward to regaining its former strengths in those areas.

“We need to do more,” he said. “Music has been reduced not just because of dollars, but because education has shifted, and we know that. It’s gone in one direction with dollars (while we) went in other directions with expectations.”

The district will hold the next budget-related listening session on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Beaverton High School library, 13000 S.W. Second St. It will be the first of seven listening sessions between then and March 12.

For more information, visit the district’s web site at

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