While the Fredonia Central School Board of Education has yet to announce publicly any anticipated reductions in programming due to budget constraints, it has not stopped advocates from taking the initiative. Knowing the board is reviewing all non-mandated programs as budget discussions continue, a few dozen advocates for music programs, particularly in the elementary school, attended the Tuesday regular board of education meeting.
"I think I speak for many of my friends and colleagues who are here tonight in saying that we understand that it's a terrible budget situation that we're facing, I understand that some painful choices will have to be made, most likely about what to cut," began SUNY Fredonia music professor Anne Kissel Harper, a mother of a first-grade student in the district. "I'm here tonight because I wanted to speak up in support of our elementary music program. The things you've said about cutting programs that are not mandated makes sense, except in the cases when the state mandates don't make sense."
In researching mandated and non-mandated programs, Harper said she is aware that while music has some mandated programs in junior-high and in the high school, it is not mandated at the elementary level.
Advocates try and save Fredonia music program
"I don't really understand how, if you have no elementary music program, you can expect to have much to teach by the time they get to high school if they haven't any basic musical skills or had some meaningful musical experiences," Harper said. "On the other hand, our young children are developmentally ready and incredibly receptive to learning music. These kids, like my daughter, have a lot to gain from the study of music. Not just in learning to express themselves in sound but I think there is so much they can learn that will help them in other areas of the curriculum."
Harper added that she feels very fortunate to have such an outstanding music program in Fredonia as it stands today. Those sentiments were ironically on display prior to the start of the board of education meeting.
Chorus teacher, Laurie Tramuta and the fourth grade Select Chorus group performed two songs in the intermediate library - "Will You Teach Me," and "Little Fish, Big Name" - before parents, administrators and the board of education.
OBSERVER Photo by Michael Rukavina
Fredonia Central School chorus teacher Laurie Tramuta leads the Fourth Grade Select Chorus during a special presentation prior to the regular board of education meeting.
"One of my goals as an educator this year was to provide more performance opportunities for my Select Chorus," Tramuta said. "We meet every Friday afternoon, when our colleagues are at recess or extra work time. They come down and see me and sing ... I'm so proud of them, I wanted to show them off a little bit for everyone."
Back in the board room and during the public portion, Barbara Brinson of Fredonia called attention to the large constituency in support of music programs for the board to see by asking them to raise their hands in support. Superintendent Paul DiFonzo raised his hand along with the members in the audience.
"We understand the budget crunch, it's very apparent and you're between a rock and a hard place, but we beg you to think three or four times before you cut the music program," Brinson said.
"Music is not and should not be considered a frill or a fun extra for our children, but I think it belongs at the heart of any kind of strong education," Harper added. "There's so much that it has to teach our children in terms of their intellectual development, using their senses and the coordination of their bodies and their whole hearts."
Following the conclusion of the board meeting, Superintendent DiFonzo acknowledged the large crowd as something not to be unexpected due to the upcoming budget woes facing the district.
"What we've done is we've provided for our board a few months ago a list of all the non-mandated programs and services. Obviously some of the music courses are part of that," he said. "The people here, many of them are obviously are very much in support of the music program and don't want to see any reductions."
In related news, the large chorus concert will be held on June 7. To view video from the Fourth Grade Selective Chorus performance prior to the board of education meeting on Tuesday please visit www.observertoday.com
In other news:
The board approved a contract with the village of Fredonia for a resource officer. The school will provide $5,000 a year for the two years of the contract which expires in June 2012.
Superintendent DiFonzo recognized the announced retirement of Samuel Tramuto, truck driver/groundsman, effective July 1, 2011.
Fourth grade students raised a few hundred dollars for Centaur Stride while working with the Fredonia State Men's Basketball team. The fourth graders from Mrs. Walzer-Meehl's class raised $200 and came in third place of the competition. All of the students in her class received a T-shirt from the Fredonia State Basketball team. Almost $1,000 was raised in total.
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