Friday, February 19, 2016

Bring music program back; benefits are obvious

This letter is in response to comments made at the recent school budget deliberative session held at the Winchester School on Feb 4.

Toward the end of the meeting resident Kevin Whippie suggested that, in the future, we look at the way our school’s music program is currently being administered. He noted that with only one staff member, it is impossible to offer general music classes to all grades and also offer instrumental and choral programs similar to those we have had in the past. He cited the many benefits of such programs on academic skills, as well as preparing students for high school and ultimately for life. He compared music to sports, stating that like our athletes, without adequate time for instruction and practice, students are not able to achieve success.

Winchester School Board Chairman Rick Horton responded that he agreed with Mr. Whippie, but reminded him that our athletic teams meet after school. He claimed that there is simply not enough time in the school day to increase the music program.


Then why is it that Winchester was able to fit instrumental and choral programs into the school schedule for scores of years in the past, as have schools across the nation? Perhaps it was because the administration and townspeople recognized that music and the fine arts have been proven to strengthen a student’s math, reading, critical thinking and verbal skills. They can improve motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork.

Students involved in music tend to score higher on standardized tests and have less behavior issues. Perhaps Winchester taxpayers recognized that vocal and instrumental programs not only help talented children to blossom and thrive, but they also bring pride to the community.

As for comparing music to sports, I understand that there are some substantial increases in the sports lines of the 2016 budget, but none for music. I fully support a sports program and I am not suggesting that cuts be made here. Athletic activities help to develop teamwork, leadership skills, and physical fitness.

In comparing cost-to-student benefit, however, music programs that are part of the regular school day can potentially reach far more students for a longer period of time than the handful that participate on an athletic team for a sports season or two. In Winchester’s case, just one additional half-time teacher could have a huge impact on rebuilding the music program.

Several years ago I was part of the music education team in Winchester at a time when we proudly supported 2.5 music teachers and had hundreds of students in our program. We featured concert bands, marching bands, a jazz band and choruses at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. We had students auditioning and qualifying for All State and All New England music festivals, and some who even went on to major in music in college. Even after the closing of Thayer High School, we maintained two music teachers and boasted an outstanding music program until cuts were made.

I agree with Kevin Whippie. It is time to bring a quality music program back to Winchester.

Please vote “NO” on the proposed school budget as the default budget is better equipped to provide the funding needed to begin to strengthen our music program. Also, please share your personal support of the music program with members of the Winchester School Board.

Pam Bigelow



And I vote said...

Maybe we are short on money, as you know in the past and I understand in the present, we hire or keep people in jobs that we don't need or aren't funded.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this as both my generation and my kid's generation were blessed with music and art programs, orchestras, bands and art programs. Gradually they have disappeared in many communities due to budgets going up and up. What factor may play a part????? I think it relates to all the dramatic increase in special needs expenses. More aides, etc. That did not exist until recent years. As the high cost of meeting the needs for all the kids diagnosed as needing extras the cost of education has skyrocketed.............. epsecially in towns like Winchester. The world has gone over the top in diagnosing kids, in turn making the schools pay more and more for what used to be the parents role in a kid's behavior. Maybe if they had an instrument to play or drawing material and fewer video games and cell phones there might be money for these programs.

Shafted!!!!!!! said...

The children, the parents, the tax payers are being shafted by the teacher's union and their "secret agenda"! Year ago the teacher union pleaded humbly with crocodile tears, we get such low wages as teacher we need better benefits to offset our bad wages. So we gave in and gave them full benefits, eye, health denial etc. . So what they (the teacher's union) do after we gave into the teacher union for benefits, they (the teacher union) starting to demand better wages. When we wouldn’t give in to their demand for higher wages the union went on strike.. Several times!

There is you band money in the pockets of the greedy.

SEE YA said...

Same cry that the rest of the towns employees sing, and probably most other towns. Water and sewer, the PD and HWY don't make enough money compared to other towns, they don't have enough employees compared to other towns and by god they are going to go where they are appreciated. Most of these people should try working in the real world. I agree our teachers do hold us hostage to a degree, but we rely on them to give us a true account of what's needed and they sure as heck have no incentive to cut back and save the taxpayers any money. Take a drive through the school parking lot and look at all the cars, I don't think the students are driving them.

Anonymous said...

The unions have publicly backed two candidates on the ballot. Picard and Sevine have been placed on the ballot by the unions. The unions strategize and had a teacher/citizen motion to raise the budget at deliberative. The current school board has been successful at holding the line on the budget. We need to re elect Cardinale and Thompson. Business minded board members with a view of the whole picture. Sevine and Picard are just a union mouth piece.

Anonymous said...

At least one of them is not even a mouth piece. She had NOTHING to say and no knowledge to provide at Meet The Candiates night.

Anonymous said...

Want higher taxes and no change in our school? Listen to the Teachers. They know everything. Keep your job for another year and get a raise. We cant even get rid of the bad ones. If we hire them we are stuck with them.... I feel bad for our kids.