Coalition will advocate for school music programs

POULSBO — A coalition has formed to defend and advocate for music education in North Kitsap.

About 75 people attended a meeting April 30 to hear Carol Reitz of the Snoqualmie Valley School District Music Coalition discuss the purpose of the new North Kitsap Music Coalition.

There is “quite a bit” of support for music education in the North Kitsap School District, Reitz said. A coalition could help music education supporters in a “collaborative manner” to keep music programs running and even improve them.

The mission of a coalition is “to ensure equal access to music education for students,” according to information from Reitz.

Access to music programs in the North Kitsap School District is not equal, said Randy Borek, president of the North Kitsap Band Boosters.

Some program offerings at the middle and high school levels, he said, are not provided at all schools. Poulsbo Middle School, for example, has a band and choir; Kingston Middle School does not have a choir program.

The biggest issue Reitz heard regarding NKSD’s programs was budget shortfalls, she said. If administrators and school board members are looking at making cuts, she said the coalition can provide data to help decision makers.

NKSD faces an approximate $3 million deficit in its 2013-14 budget. The district has already announced about 11 teaching positions could be cut. Borek said he wants the school board to know the “potential impact” cutting music education could have.

For example, according to the Arts Education Partnership, music programs help students enhance their fine motor skills, foster a superior memory which improves recall of verbal information, is a boost to reading and math skills, and increases SAT scores.

The Washington Music Education Association is pushing those involved in music education in all school districts to start coalitions, Borek said. Borek initially contacted Reitz. When it comes to the work of a coalition, one of the biggest jobs is to provide administrators and school board members with as much information regarding music as possible, including how music education has benefitted people, he said.

“We want to make sure the community knows what the band and choir mean to people,” Borek said.

A coalition supports all music programs, kindergarten through 12th grade. This is different than a booster club, which fundraises for a specific program. A coalition is student-centered and parent-led, according to information presented by Reitz.

The Snoqualmie coalition began in February 2011 with one teacher and a parent, and since then has provided three annual reports, Reitz said. For now, the North Kitsap Music Coalition’s main job will be gathering data, including how many students are in each music program, each student’s GPA, graduation rates, etc. The coalition will put together a report for administration and the school board, Borek said.

The coalition is open to the public. Anyone interested can join, Borek said. Find out more by visiting the coalition’s Facebook page; search “North Kitsap Music Coalition.”


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