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School band programs may cut back on trips soon

POULSBO — Susan Peters has seen the band budget cut each year since she took the band instructor job at North Kitsap High School about six years ago. Despite budget cuts, the program continues to grow.

The cuts, to both North Kitsap and Kingston high school bands, has put a larger burden on band boosters.

The North Kitsap band budget is about $200,000. Of that total, the district provided $2,477.92 for band transportation per quarter during the 2011-12 school year.

“We’ve been taking hits to the point where we have no budget at all,” Peters said. “It puts a tremendous burden on students and parents.”

In order to avoid a $125 pay-to-play fee this year, band program leaders and boosters agreed to try and raise more money. Marching band students already pay a $125 fee to participate.

For a few years, Peters expects the cuts won’t have too much of a impact. However, to maintain fundraising for an extended period of time might be unrealistic, she said.

The band programs may reduce the amount of travel that is done throughout the year.

Randy Borek, North Kitsap High School Band Booster president, said it’s possible the band program will be scaled down in the 2012-13 school year. That would include attending fewer competitions. The marching band, for example, attends four competitions per year. It could be reduced to two, he said.

Borek, who has two children in the band program, said he would like to see his sophomore student go through four years of band.

“I would certainly like to see it scaled down before it goes away,” he said.

The band booster clubs rely on parents. At North Kitsap, parents must have a student in band in order to participate in the school’s band booster club. Student enrollment has been steady with the program, despite the district losing students, Borek said.

The Kingston High School Band Boosters are in the same boat. Shawna Reimann, the KHS band booster president, said the total amount the program received from the district was $5,500 in 2011-12. Reimann said taking the band to Portland for the Portland Rose Festival cost about $30,000.

Reimann said the KHS band program is fine this year because boosters were successful last year. The program is surviving on savings.

The cuts have also forced the boosters to become creative when cutting costs. Along with filling buses to capacity, parents are doing more chaperoning, Reimann said. Instead of renting a truck to transport instruments and equipment, they are using a horse trailer.

In the future, if money gets more tight, Reimann echoed her North Kitsap counterparts; the marching band will have to reduce its number of performance venues.

Reimann said she still expects the school board to charge a pay-to-play fee for band students. If that happens, she said she would like to see the band programs receive more funding, like sports.

Dan Weedin, North Kitsap School Board president, said he was pleased that the boosters were willing to fundraise more, instead of the board imposing fees. Weedin said he does not see a scenario where there would be a fee, such as the one suggested during the budget adoption process. However, he cannot say it will never happen.

“In my personal opinion, it’s highly unlikely that we would see that,” he said.

Weedin, who is the regular football announcer at North Kitsap Stadium for the Vikings, said the band programs are necessary, 100 percent. Not only are the programs successful, he said they help build the culture of the schools.

To help with expenses, the band programs continue to host fundraisers throughout the year.

On Dec. 1, North Kitsap will host Putting on the Ritz, 7 p.m., at First Lutheran Church. The event includes an auction and will include performances by the Jazz Band, with guest performers. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

On March 8, North Kitsap will host “Poulsbo’s Got Talent” in the North Kitsap Auditorium, from 6-9 p.m. The talent show is community-wide. Auditions will be held in January. Acts will include music and comedy. Guests will have the chance to vote for their favorites.

On Dec. 15, KHS band boosters will host a Papa Murphy’s takeover in Kingston, where money from each pizza purchase goes to the band.

On Feb. 9, KHS will hold its silent auction at the Indianola Club House.

 

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