Board looking at string music program

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Clovis’ school board on Tuesday voted to take steps toward implementing a string instrument program for the district.
But first the district needs to identify concrete sources of funding and find a string instrument teacher to get the program off the ground.

“This program would be something special for our gifted children,” said Board President Terry Martin. “We don’t want to take away from the programs we already have, but we need to look at putting something together, and it comes down to nickels and dimes.”

Moving forward with the initiative at the secondary level will be a precarious task due to funding concerns, officials said. The future implementation of the program is more certain at the elementary level, where funding has already been obtained in the form of a fine arts grant.

No timeline was offered at the meeting for the implementation of the program. However, board members did commit to identify the number of interested students who have previous training on string instruments.

Concerns over the possibility of the new program detracting from the quality of the existing music program were voiced at a previous meeting. Those same concerns were addressed at length Thursday evening. Those who don’t support the proposed string program fear that participation in chorus and band would drop if a string program were added.

Board member Lora Harlan countered that the new string program would attract an entirely new set of students to music.

“It will speak to students not already engaged in music. It takes a different set of skills to play a string instrument than it would to play a wind instrument. We need to start thinking out of the box and find a way to start this program,” Harlan said.

Ladona Clayton, assistant superintendent of instruction, said a possible donor of stringed instruments — which include the violin, the viola, the cello, the double bass, and the harp — has already stepped forward.

Clayton added that funds can be taken from a fine arts grant without significantly altering the arts programs already in existence. Figures obtained from an earlier administered string program feasibility survey showed that 74 percent of students surveyed supported a string program.

Harlan also said a string program can exist as an entity of its own with only three or four members. It can additionally complement the sound of a larger orchestra.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The board awarded a bid to resurface Clovis High School’s tennis court.

• The board allocated funds to update Marshall Junior High’s stage and lighting equipment in the form of a pipe grid (from which curtains and props can be hung)

• A quick overview of the 2005-2006 budget was presented, which will be submitted to the state in early May.

• Employees of the month for Gattis Junior High School and Highland Elementary School were recognized and a Volunteer of the Year Award was given to student mentor Opal Head.