Alameda kids have lost their music lessons as school district officials work to save money in the face of a tight budget. But now some of their fellow students and parents are trying to rescue the classes.
With concerts and other fundraisers, they hope to make up the $200,000 that school district trustees took away from the music instruction for first- through third-graders.
So far, the campaign is off to a good start.
Students at Bay Farm Elementary School have raised $10,000 in the "Money for Music" drive, collecting nickels, dimes and other change on campus.
A children's concert also will take place Sunday at Alameda Point as part of the fundraising effort, while future events are planned at the Pasta Pelican restaurant and at Kofman Auditorium in Historic Alameda High School.
"Unfortunately, our music teachers are receiving layoff notices now," said Trish Spencer, president of the Alameda PTA council. "We're trying to do this to protect their jobs and save our music programs."
In all, 15 teachers and six administrators received pink slips after the Board of Education approved a slate of cost-saving measures last month to help bridge the projected $4.5 million shortfall.
High school sports and the district's swim centers lost $265,000.
Along with fundraising for the music program, PTA members are campaigning for Measure H, the June ballot measure that calls for Alameda homeowners to pay an annual $120 tax for local schools.
"We are asking individual PTAs to pledge money (to help make up the cuts)," Spencer said Thursday. "But we are also telling them that we may not have to call in the pledges if the parcel tax passes."
Volunteers with the Measure H campaign fanned out across the city on Saturday, knocking on doors to ask people to vote for the tax.
Meanwhile, district trustees will get an update tonight on the work of a task force that is looking at ways to develop a "fiscally solvent structural system" for the district that will be long-term and sustainable, according to its goals. The task force includes teachers and administrators and it was created to address existing enrollment imbalances in district schools. It will meet regularly through November, when it's expected to make recommendations to the board.
The school board meeting tonight begins at 6:30 in City Hall.
The fundraising concert Sunday will feature Gary Lapow, a children's musician from Berkeley. It begins at 3 p.m. at Auctions by the Bay at Alameda Point.
The second concert will feature Helene Davis-Onaga, a parent of an Earhart Elementary School student and a professional singer, along with pianist Cesar Cancino. It take place from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 20, at the Pasta Pelican restaurant on Mariner Square Drive.
Twenty percent of the proceeds of the evening will go toward restoring the music program, according to the organizers.
Spencer said details about the May 2 concert at Kofman Auditorium are still being worked out.
The school district is facing a budget shortfall due to the estimated $16 billion state deficit. The current shortfall also comes against a backdrop of trustees cutting more than $7 million from the district's finances over the past seven years.
Reach Peter Hegarty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-748-1654.