RICHMOND -- The West Contra Costa school board Wednesday evening approved the return of elementary school instrumental music programs to 29 more of its campuses over the next two years.
The move follows last month's approval for music at seven elementary schools that feed into Portola Middle School in El Cerrito.
The inclusion of 12 more schools for the 2013-14 school year will cost $240,000 to pay for three new teachers. The district plans to hire three more teachers in 2014-15 to restore the programs at 17 more schools.
West Contra Costa canceled music programs for all elementary schools in early 2009 because of cuts in state funding.
A few schools have restored their programs through grants and other fundraising, but most have not, according to the district.
The district has been able to restore the programs because of an improved financial picture brought on in part by the passage of Proposition 30 in November, according to school board President Madeline Kronenberg.
"This is a major move in a positive direction after all the painful cuts in recent years," Kronenberg said.
Riverside, Ellerhorst, Bayview, Valley View, Hanna Ranch, Olinda, Lupine Hills, Highland, Ohlone, Stewart, Murphy and Sheldon elementary schools will have their music programs restored this fall.
The schools chosen last month were Washington, Stege, Kensington, Madera, Harding, Fairmont and Mira Vista.
The board also voted unanimously to farm out a day program for expelled students to the county Office of Education because enrollment in the program has fallen from 180 students six years ago to a handful anticipated for next fall, Superintendent Bruce Harter said.
Kronenberg and Harter credited district efforts to keep suspensions and expulsions to a minimum for the enrollment decline.
The move is being challenged in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and a pair of local taxpayers, but the board went ahead based on advice from counsel.
"(Considering) enrollment numbers, we do not need a community day program for expelled students," Harter said.
In the main event of the evening, trustees gave a send-off to 38 students in this year's Ivy League Connection program. The program offers West Contra Costa students scholarships for summer study and campus tours at selective eastern universities.
This year, students will be attending programs at Cornell, Columbia, Yale, Brown and Vanderbilt universities and the University of Pennsylvania.
Seven former Ivy League Connection participants were admitted to Ivy League schools this year, said Kronenberg, one of the creators of the 8-year-old program.