By Dan Wolk
(Delivered initially during public comment on Tuesday).
As many of you know, I am a product of the Davis schools and in particular its stellar music program. I participated in music in elementary school, had the amazing Rachel Kessler in junior high chorus, and sang with Dick Brunelle and Karen Gardias in high school with the Madrigals and Jazz Choir.
I would not be who I am today without chorus – and in particular the junior high choral program which was very foundational and formative for me and I know so many others. And Jamima and I are excited that both our elementary school age girls are interested in chorus and look forward to their having the same opportunities we had to do music.
But now it’s come to my attention that the school district is contemplating cutting the junior high choral program in half. We were shocked to hear this.
As you know from your discussion about the facilities bond, our schools and their leaders need to be focused on reinvesting in our assets and students – not disinvesting. I strongly urge you to seize this opportunity to reject such disinvestment and instead maintain and even augment the existing program. In so doing, you will:
- retain the 5 choirs of the past 2 years including developmentally appropriate bi-level choirs at 2 of the junior highs
- effectuate the adequate preparation of the junior high choirs to feed into the high school choirs – without that, the entire music program will suffer
- expand the possibilities for outreach to elementary schools resulting in long-term choir growth; something Jamima and I have noted with our elementary age children
- be consistent with the advice of music professionals (including current and former teachers in the district)
- adhere to parcel tax commitments to Davis parents and other taxpayers to support music programming in the schools
- protect and enhance an inclusive program that provides demonstrated social-emotional benefits, and for students for whom an instrumental music program may not be an option.
At the very least, I ask the district to postpone this decision to allow for more discussion and transparency. I know that I personally was not aware of this, particularly in such a busy time for parents and students.
Dan Wolk is a Davis resident, parent, and former Mayor of Davis.