Young Oak Bay musicians marked the approach of spring with a mix of music and philanthropy at Monterey Middle School.
When the invasion of Ukraine hit the news, there was a sense the community wanted to help, explained principal Ken Andrews. “We wanted to express our support to those suffering in some meaningful way despite the distance.”
The Monterey Music Parents Association came up with the idea of giving the school community the opportunity to contribute during the spring concert. The event raised more than $1,000.
“The donations were generous, reflecting that so many Monterey families were keen to contribute to humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine,” Andrews said.
Raising awareness and funds with music is something the parent association worries won’t continue, with the program among those that could be cut back in the Greater Victoria School Board’s budget this year, said Audrey Wang, chair of the parent group.
“Next school year, we may end up with a drastically reduced music program, which translates as no concerts and no opportunities to raise funds or organize any meaningful charitable events at all,” Wang said.
With a $7.2-million deficit, the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) is looking at numerous cost-saving areas including counsellors, music programs and daytime custodians.
Changes to counselling would see up to 19 positions cut – 10 school counsellors and nine Community LINK youth, family and outreach workers – for a savings of $1.8 million.
In the music department, the district is proposing up to $1.2 million in cuts, which could do away with elementary strings, district ukulele, and middle school band and strings – programs the community fought to save in 2021. A different elementary strings program is proposed for $181,429.
The Monterey music community plans to protest the potential budget cuts on Thursday, March 17 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in Oak Bay along McNeill Avenue between Oliver Road and Hampshire Street.
SD61 will accept feedback on its draft budget by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, until April 1. The budget is scheduled to be debated and voted on April 4 and 7.
– With files from Jane Skrypnek