Bartlesville parents were speaking out Thursday against recent cuts to the school budget. Bartlesville Public Schools was short more than half a million dollars.
To balance the budget, school leaders cut corners in several areas, trimming dozens of aides and seven and a half teachers. One of them was a band instructor. And Thursday, members of the Bartlesville High School marching band let the school board know they're not happy with the decision.
News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says usually some Bartlesville teenagers let their instruments speak for them. But with their marching band program taking a hit, the Bruin Brigade wanted their voices to be heard.
They marched into Bartlesville's Education Service Center to protest one of the victims of the budget ax, a band instructor. Former band member Joey Evans: "we came off one of our best years this year and to decide to cut one of our band directors coming off one of our best years it just doesnâ€™t make any sense why they would do that." The band instructor is one of $600,000 worth of budget cuts the Bartlesville school board approved last week.
School superintendent Dr Gary Quinn says new state laws requiring a raise for teachers and full-day kindergarten put the district in a pinch. Add declining enrollments which means fewer state dollars and they were forced to make some tough choices. "These decisions are always difficult. I care very much about our students. We have a fantastic band program as well as other studentâ€™s activities and certainly we're not into harming any of our programs.â€
But these band members and band parents say that's exactly what's happening. They say the Brigade's head director has already resigned over the matter. Mid High band director Jeff Lawless: "This administration and school board by approving this preliminary budget and this cut has put this band program in perilous danger of quickly falling apart. All I know is you better do something and do it in a hurry."
Clarinet player Amanda Evans: "well itâ€™s just horrible because they cut one position, who's to say they wonâ€™t cut another one next year or something cause we're running out of funds every year."
Bartlesville schools made several cuts, but they also added nine teachers. The superintendent says that's based on where the teachers are needed.
For now, the Bruin Brigade will be short one instructor. They're only option is to convince a school board member to reconsider and put the item on the board agenda.