ANN ARBOR, MI – New flutes, drums, pianos, violins and other instruments will be making their way into the classrooms of Ann Arbor Public Schools now that the Board of Education has approved the purchase of thousands of new instruments of music.
The board voted 6-0 on Nov. 15 in favor of spending nearly $ 2 million to buy the instruments, which will come from the roughly $ 34 million raised by bond voters passed in 2015. In total, the Designated AAPS $ 3 million on 2015 bond income musical instruments.
“That $ 34 million made all the difference in brand new school buses, in 5,000 instruments, in new playgrounds in our elementary (schools),” Superintendent Jeanice Swift said at the board meeting. “I never want to go near an expense vote without going back to our community to thank them because they said ‘OK’, even though other communities could have said ‘No, I need to. get the tax money back. ‘”
With each category of expenditure for the 2015 bond income, AAPS assembled an advisory committee comprising school staff and parents to make recommendations for purchases. The musical instruments advisory committee assessed the current state of instruments in the district to decide how many instruments should be replaced.
Robin Bailey, fine arts coordinator for the school district, provided the school board with a detailed list exactly what instruments will be purchased and the grade levels where they will be used.
Administrator Jessica Kelly praised Bailey for making sure they purchase appropriately sized instruments for students of different grade levels, giving the example of the quarter size violins included in the purchase proposal .
Instruments deemed unusable for AAPS students will be used as parts to repair other instruments or sold, Bailey said.
The AAPS asks each fifth grader to learn to play an instrument of their choice, and then the students decide if they want to continue making music.
âIt’s a huge element of fairness for us in this district and for our music department to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn to play, so it’s actually a choice for them,â he said. said Bailey. “If you don’t provide this, then you’ve already decided for them.”
Trustees expressed appreciation for the school district and taxpayer’s commitment to continue investing in music programs, even amid budget cuts.
Board chair Christine Stead recalled the board’s commitment in 2013 – when AAPS had to cut spending in order to balance its budget – to preserving fine arts programs as much as possible.
“I am so proud that we made this decision then, and I am so proud that we are in the position we are today where we can consider approving 5,000 instruments to put them in the hands of our children, âStead said.