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TDSB considering scaling back music programs

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees are considering cutting music programs taught by part-time instructors as the board grapples with a $28-million deficit.

If approved – the vote isn’t until June – the number of music hours will be cut by more than half.

Click here for a staff report.

Currently, part-time instructors  –  47 band, 29 string, seven steel pan and 24 staff development instructors – teach for 1,661 hours a week.

Trustees are deciding whether to reduce that to 713 hours a week.

The plan, which didn’t say how much would be saved, was discussed at a budget committee meeting on March 18, but a decision won’t be made for several months.

Students in Grade 5 to Grade 8 would be affected and layoffs are likely.

Last month, the board voted 10-6 in favour of cutting hundreds of teaching jobs in an effort to tackle its then $55-million deficit.

Those cuts would affect 248 high school teachers, eight vice principals, 22 special education staff and 47 guidance staff, including librarians, and save the board $27 million.

The TDSB will meet in June to discuss how to deal with the remaining deficit.

In the meantime, NDP MPP Rosario Marchese is calling on Minister of Education Liz Sandals to protect music programs.

“Why is the provincial government pushing the Toronto District School Board to cut back music instruction in strings, band, vocals and steel drums at 300 Toronto elementary schools?” asked Marchese.

“Music is a critical part of a well-rounded education,” said Marchese. “While wealthy students can afford music lessons outside of the school system, most of Ontario families depend on public schools to provide good quality music instruction for their kids.”