Supporters stage musical protest outside Greater Victoria School District offices – Vancouver Island Free Daily

Just under 20 students, staff and teachers stood outside a building in the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) on Tuesday evening, waving signs, playing instruments and protesting against cuts to their school programs. music.

Inside, the district board and staff attended a closed-door meeting with new financial advisor Joan Axford.

Axford, who has 14 years of experience as a school board secretary-treasurer and another 10 as a financial consultant, was hired last week to review SD61’s controversial budget process.

One of the main sticking points in the process has been the cuts that would eliminate much of the elementary and middle school music programs. Initially, the $ 1.5 million cuts proposed to wipe out all programs except the Grade 8 Band, but after weeks of protests and backlash from the public, the board has reinstated about 500 $ 000 to keep the band from grades 6 to 8.

But that still leaves the choir and string programs on the chopping block.

“We hope that no programs are eliminated and that the cuts will not be as deep as they originally proposed,” said Cindy Romphf, music teacher and president of the Greater Victoria Music Educators’ Association. “They are so vital.”

Students demonstrating in front of an SD61 building on Tuesday evening. (Courtesy of Cindy Romphf)

Having taught music for 18 years, Romphf said she has never seen the community come together so powerfully.

“I feel like we’ve shed light on what people find really important,” she said. During the pandemic, his students said music lessons were their lifeline.

“A lot of them said it was the only class they had fun in. They are able to relax and be themselves,” Romphf said. Protesting and standing up for what they love has been exciting for them, she added, but they also fear the possibility of a negative outcome.

Oxford’s report and recommendations on the budget process are expected to be posted on the district’s website at 2 p.m. today (May 26). On Thursday evening, people are invited to attend a final virtual feedback meeting before the council’s budget vote next Monday.

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