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Parents group fundraising to save Greater Victoria elementary strings program

Online campaign goal $85K, foundation offers to chip in if community support found
Over 100 students lined the sidewalks of Boleskine Road in April, protesting cuts to Greater Victoria School District music programs. An online fundraising campaign aims to raise enough funds to revive SD61’s elementary strings program, which was cut from the district’s 2022-23 budget. (Black Press Media file photo)

A parent-led organization is fundraising in hopes of saving the Greater Victoria School District’s elementary strings program.

Karin Kwan, chair of Advocacy for Music in Schools, said the organization was resurrected last year when budget talks brought up the possibility the program could be cut in SD61. In April, the $209,000 budget for the program was officially cut for 2022-23, one of a series of measures taken to address a $7-million deficit.

“This program has been around for a very long time, over 80 years in elementary schools, and the strings program itself since 1914, so it is disheartening that the tradition won’t be kept alive,” Kwan said. “We’ve taken it upon ourselves to find some funding so we can keep the program going.”

READ MORE: Greater Victoria trustees finalize music, janitorial cuts and more; budget approved

The advocacy group was approached by a family foundation based outside B.C. but with connections to students in the district, she said. The foundation offered to help fund the program for another year, but only if the community banded together to help with some of the funding.

That’s when the group, in partnership with the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, launched an online fundraiser with a goal of $85,000.

“They really wanted to see that the community wanted this as badly as some of us have, and they are willing to give us some of the funds, but not all of the funds. So it is up to us to make sure we can make up that gap,” Kwan said.

Kwan is optimistic given the level of support the campaign has received so far, that the fundraising goal will be achieved and the program will be saved for at least one more year.

While the online campaign had raised nearly $20,000 as of May 26 and private donations have come in from other sources, she said time is quickly running out, however, to secure the remaining funding and have it applied to the coming school year.

Black Press Media contacted SD61 for comment on the situation, but did not receive a response by publication time.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria students walk out, protest proposed budget cuts


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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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