To the Editor:
I’ve been following the DeKalb High School Marching Barbs’ quest for new uniforms and am frankly appalled at their situation.
Recent articles in the MidWeek and the Chronicle paint a vivid picture of a vibrant band that competes, performs and publicly represents its school while sporting seriously worn and torn, dilapidated garb, the only distinguishing feature being a faded “DeKalb” on the shoulder.
Would we allow our sports teams to represent our high school in similarly shabby attire?
And yet here are our band students, clad in 14-year-old hand-me-downs that have to be stitched up before games and at halftime by volunteer moms in the stands.
I’m glad band students, their director and parents are fundraising to address their desperate need. I’m glad the band is requesting a one-time increase to the district’s music budget for the 2018-19 school year in the amount of $38,000 to aid the purchase. I’m glad the DeKalb School District 428 Board is considering how to help these students.
What distresses me is that the board is worried that doing so would open the door to other extracurricular programs requesting district funds, as Drew Zimmerman reported (Chronicle, Feb. 8).
Even more distressing is that although the board is reportedly proposing to pay a portion of the requested amount, the balance would be considered a loan to the band.
As a parent of former DHS music students, I’ve seen up close how hard students in these programs work, during their music classes, before and after school, on weekends and during summers.
As a former high school teacher in a neighboring district, I know all too well where programs such as music sometimes fall in terms of budgeting priorities.
The notion that some extracurricular programs do all of their own fundraising is bad enough. But it would seem that the music program is more than extracurricular: a quick check of the high school website indicates these classes are credited coursework; that would indicate that band is co-curricular, that is, a program that complements the academic curriculum. As such, it should be supported by district funding.
School districts should actively invest in the programs they claim to support. Co-curricular classes are a boon to students and schools alike. They offer hands-on learning and life skills for coursework that can lead to careers and lifelong passions.
Please, District 428 board, reconsider your stance. Allow the one-time increase to the district’s music budget, no strings attached.