HAYWARD -- Musical instrument instruction will return to elementary schools next year.
Hayward Unified trustees restored funding for the program last week, to the tune of $290,000, on a 4-0 vote. Trustee Luis Reynoso was absent.
"All of the trustees support fully funding the elementary school program," trustee Annette Walker said at the board's meeting.
Budget cuts eliminated elementary instrumental programs beginning in the 2010-11 school year. Those cuts spurred Hayward High School music instructor Bryan Holbrook to put together an after-school instrumental program for elementary-age students with volunteer teachers. The classes were held at the high school once a week starting in January 2011 and continued last year.
"None of us were being paid," Holbrook said later. "We were doing it pro bono."
In October, the district expanded Holbrook's program to Mount Eden and Tennyson high schools, with paid instructors. The sessions attracted 175 students, with 125 to 150 attending regularly.
Trustees were given an update on the limited after-school program at last week's meeting. Board president William McGee thanked Holbrook for continuing musical instruction after budget cuts eliminated funding.
"Hats off to you for doing that," he said. He also expressed his appreciation to Tennyson and Mount Eden music instructors John Orosco and Kevin Cato for helping the program expand this year.
Assistant Superintendent Matt Wayne, who worked with the music teachers to develop the program this year, said the restored funding will allow the district to hire three teachers to provide every fifth- and sixth-grade student access to instrumental music.
The board also restored $137,000 to fund the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, which had been eliminated because of budget cuts. GATE is a program that provides academic activities for high-achieving students.
"I think this is great," Wayne said. "The board and the district are committed to providing as many programs to the students as possible."
Holbrook, who had to leave the trustees' meeting early, said he was surprised and thrilled to learn later that trustees had restored the daytime program at the elementary school sites.
"My reaction was complete shock; we had not expected it," he said. "We are enthusiastically changing around how we are doing the program."
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2467. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.