USSBA implements changes to address school budget issues

Organization to remain proactive to help all bands

With the announcement in many states of school districts facing significant budget shortfalls, the US Scholastic Band Association is proposing several new ideas within its marching band activities to help participating schools by any means necessary to continue to provide performance opportunities for their students. 

“For example, transportation costs for extracurricular activities seem to be at the forefront of some of the cost-cutting being implemented by school districts, so we believe there are some opportunities for us to restructure our events to reduce busing costs,” said Sean King, Director of USSBA. 

Beginning with the fall season, any event which has in excess of 16 participating groups will have a second awards ceremony scheduled at mid-way point allowing bands to return to their schools and not absorb excessive transportation fees due to extended event hours 

“There are also some positive outcomes to this new concept which will improve the overall experience at the events, said Tara-Lee Bryant, Local Event Coordinator for the USSBA.  “We will be able to provide a full critique for all bands for the first and second half of the contest and, at the same time, be able to cut down on some of the late nights experienced by bands at the larger events.” 

Bryant continued, “In the big picture we have to provide every opportunity for the bands to participate.  We hope that the difference for a band to attend an event never comes down to the transportation expense,  and if there’s a way we can help to schedule the event to make busing more economical, we have to look at every option.” 

Placing a historical perspective on the current budget issues, George Hopkins, CEO of YEA!, the parent organization of the USSBA said, “We went through belt-tightening in the early 1990’s when the first round of school music education cuts were happening.  We were proud to be on the forefront in the state of New Jersey helping to protect programs alongside the NJMEA.” 

 “That was the point where many of the band booster organizations gained traction and a large portion of band’s budgets switched from school district funding to grass roots fundraising.  We’ve been through this before and we will work side-by-side with bands to help weather this storm as well,” Hopkins added. 

The change to the large local event schedule is only the first of many policy changes and initiatives the USSBA will be launching in the coming months to provide advocacy for member bands. 

“March 4 Music remains an opportunity for school music programs to band together with the USSBA in a cooperative fundraiser in order to raise funds and awareness for their programs, King added.   “We will also be pulling together a library of advocacy materials from research to strategies and tactics for schools for bands to keep music a vital portion of any school’s curriculum.” 

King concluded, “We’ve only begun the fight and we intend to use as many of the resources and connections we have to assist and support our member bands as they struggle to survive and ultimately prosper.” 

Join us at Bridgewater-Raritan High School in Bridgewater, N.J. for an informal meeting to discuss the steps the USSBA is taking to support music in the schools of our member bands.  Register today to participate by contacting Courtney Beard at Courtney@yea.org, or by telephone at (610) 821-0345, Ext. 137.

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