Valley Music Program in Jeopardy

Atwater, CA The Atwater Elementary School Board is holding a special meeting here to get input from the community about how to deal with proposed state budget cuts. One possibility is to end the district's music program, but that option is hitting a sour note with many parents and students.

Sisters Julie and Heather strong perform at spots across the Valley and have even recorded their own CD.

Before they were "Nadine the band" these rockers played the flute and saxophone at Mitchell Senior Elementary School.

Heather Strong, Musician: "Being in the band program at school really helps you get knowledge of music and a love for music."

Now the music program at Atwater Elementary School District may be in danger. All three of the district's music teachers have received notice that their positions could be cut because the school board must find a way to trim one-point-six-million dollars from its already tight budget.

Gloria Honey, School Board President: "We're going to determine what has to be cut, and we're going to cut as far away from the classroom as we can."

School Board President Gloria Honey says no one wants to lose the music program and stresses that no final decisions have been made. Concerned parents and students are taking a proactive approach to make sure the music plays on.

Greta Janz, Atwater Parent: "They've gotten almost 2000 signatures, which represents nearly 10% of the population in this city of community members that are saying we don't agree with this, we want music to stay important to the City of Atwater and to our children."

Greta Janz has one son in Mitchell's Music Program and another who plays in the Buhach Colony High School Band. She says more than one thousand elementary students and the entire community will suffer if the program is cut.

Janz: "It provides a safe, positive community for them, it keeps them out of gangs, it keeps them out of trouble."

Janz also says cutting the elementary program would hurt the city's two high school bands in the future. She and other parents and students will be sharing those thoughts with the school board during Monday's meeting. The board won't make any final budget decisions until April first.

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