Springtime school budget season– the most complicated time of the year

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Photo credit: Rob Davidson Photography

As a music education advocate and strategist, I find the spring school budget season my most worrisome time of the year, because this is when districts lay out budget proposals for the next school year (my next most worrisome season is late summer when districts that have discretion to adjust expenses sometimes reduce music education programs). Since it is now officially summer we are almost out of the woods in terms of the preparation, review and voting that occurs on school budgets for the upcoming school year. During school budget season, spreadsheets are a-humming with calculations of where to allocate funds--and how much is available-- from federal, state and local sources. Planners must consider what the costs of all education expenses will be, including building improvements, maintenance, salaries (administrative and teachers) and other costs for meeting education needs in the district. If there are any weaknesses in support for music education and the importance of its place in the core curriculum, it will show up during this process.  Of course, this isn’t the only time that deficits in support for music education is revealed; changes in provisions for music education can happen with individual school principal shifts or adjustments to district management policy (i.e. from district-wide to site-based).  But the spring school budget preparation and review process is telling, because it is an annual check on how solid the support for music education actually is, because like it or not, education policy and priorities have a direct relationship to what is supported financially.

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Excerpt from MMR (Musical Merchandise Review) July 2015 Digital Issue.