Toronto school board trustees rescue music staff
Toronto District School Board changes its tune about cutting instructors but chair says pain must be felt somewhere.
By Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star, Wed Jun 19 2013
It was the day the music didn’t die.
Toronto trustees saved music instructors but slashed school budgets as they debated the 2013-14 board budget late into the night.
Facing a $55-million deficit in their $2.9-billion budget, trustees earlier this year voted to cut teachers and other school staff to save about $27.7 million, and on Wednesday discussed proposals to find the remaining $27.3 million to balance the books.
Refusing to cut the music instructors and hours of programming added $2 million to the savings to be found, and Toronto District School Board Chair Chris Bolton said it would be added to a budget line called “in-year savings” — which basically means they will be found during the next school year through not filing job openings right away or through lower utility costs.
That boosts the in-year savings to be found to $10.5 million.
Bolton said, however, that while music has grabbed the public’s attention — many trustees spoke about how the outcry was the biggest they’d ever seen — other cuts like those to school budgets were going to affect programs
“Textbooks cost more,” he said. “The problem is, you don’t have the materials to start up classrooms or to do new initiatives,” he said after briefly leaving the meeting to speak with reporters.
“This is a victory — the Toronto District School Board has one of the best music programs in the country and we’re going to be able to maintain it for at least another year,” said Trustee Chris Glover after the budget vote.
Of course, we enthusiastically endorse the Board's decision to salvage the music program in Toronto schools. And it is not only the Toronto board that will be affected by this decision. Other boards, both across Ontario and across the nation will be watching and reading about the Toronto board's decision, motivated in part by the huge outcry from the public.
Board members in most jurisdictions will be wary of a similar public outcry in their own areas, something trustees who depend on local ratepayers' votes for their jobs on the boards of education do not seek, and work tenaciously to avoid.
Music has so many benefits, outlined in some many different fora that we need not repeat those benefits here. Suffice it to say that good sense prevailed in the Toronto Board this time, and next year about this time, another wave of public support for music/opposition to budget cuts to the music program, will have to be mounted by those who understand the full implications of the move.