Budget pinch silences music
State funding cuts to education continue to impose penalties in the classroom.
A sad example emerged in the Western Wayne School District when classes resumed last week.
There will be no music instruction this year for Western Wayne students between the pre-kindergarten and second-grade levels.
"It was a very difficult decision, but we're facing some really, really difficult financial circumstances," Superintendent Clay LaCoe, Ed.D., told a Times-Shamrock writer.
The program was silenced after the school board opted not to replace a retiring music teacher, saving on salary and benefits to offset the effects of increased pension obligations and the impact of state budget cuts.
Thankfully the music programs have not been cut here in Bradford County, but other important programs have.
Gov. Tom Corbett slashed education funding by almost $1 billion during his first year in office and the money has not been reinstated. The increasing share of school district obligations to the state pension fund make matters worse, forcing school boards to boost taxes and eliminate programs at the same time.
State school districts have abolished more than 780 academic programs since 2010-11 to cope with the predicament and up to 370 more may be eliminated this year, according to school administrators.
The source of the problem can be traced to Harrisburg, where state lawmakers resist changes to the status quo.
Depriving first-graders of music education is no way to help balance school district budgets.