Update: The Band Playing On

by / Apr. 24, 2015 11am EST

This week we published a story about the dead-end corner the Buffalo Public Schools instrumental music program find itself in with regards to successive cuts in programming.

We received additional information during our research for the story that didn’t quite fit the scope of the story be still deserves to be in the open.  

  • MLK School #39 will be open for only one more year after which it will transition into something else, or be another city-owned vacant parcel. Due to its proximity to the medical corridor, it probably won’t stay empty for long. Whether it will transition into a Performing Arts Annex depends on the state’s approval of a “socio-economic integration grant” that the district has submitted. 
  • This is a battle that has been going basically since the district began allowing principals to develop school-based budgets. Two years ago, board member Florence Johnson was successful in mandating that some portion of the budget be reserved for music, which is divided between vocal and insturmental programs. Still, however, International Prep was able to completely eradicate its music program this school year (see chart below).
  • The mayor has been in this fight since 2013, when the first deep cuts to the instrumental music program were made. His $400,000 pledge helped keep the program’s staffing in place. Whether he will renew this funding to the program is unknown, thsi support was never intended to be a permanent solution. Mayor Brown’s office has not responded to numerous requests for comment on this issue. Spokesperson for the district, Elena Cala, told us that everything is up in the air until the smoke from next year’s budget clears. 

Below are two budgetary documents related to the music program. The first is from the district’s budget published online. “FTE” refers to full-time employees.

And here is a more accurate and specific document concerning how many teachers are in the program and in which schools they are located. The discrepancy between the numbers in the charts above and below is satisfied by positions alotted to the district from a “Contract for Excellence” grant.