Dear San Diego Unified School District School Board:
I want to share with you a day in the life of a band parent. Monday night, ten parents met to discuss Rhapsody on the Point, the biggest fundraiser for the Point Loma High School Instrumental Music program. Committee members have collected over $30,000 in silent auction and raffle items alone. And, we’re excited to have a new venue this year, Humphrey’s by the Bay. Now, we’re worried about filling seats for a program primarily supported by already tapped out parents.
As band boosters, we’re responsible for ensuring the success of the program by raising money — over $70,000 per year — and, due to one overzealous lawyer, can no longer ask parents for direct donations. We’ve held bake sales, restaurant nights, play-a-thons, a flap-jack fundraiser, sold event tickets, sold SCRIP, and the list goes on.
Why am I telling you this? Because all of this planning and fundraising is happening while our band director, James Sepulvado, has a pink slip dangling over his head.
Eight years ago, our students showed up to summer band camp, and there was no teacher to lead them. Undaunted, the student leaders made it happen anyway, and the school scrambled to hire a director. We got one for one year, followed by another director who stayed for four years. The program was growing.
Three years ago, we lost the second band director, and his replacement stayed for just a year. Thankfully, James Sepulvado was the assistant band director for that year, and we have been thankful to have him as our director ever since.
After dipping, the program is growing again. James has forged alliances with our other cluster music programs at Dana Middle School and Correia Junior High. For the first time in a long while, there has been continuity, and add to that the craziness that we’re getting a brand new music center next year with absolutely no certainty of an experienced teacher to shepherd it.
Our principal tells us not to worry that there are plenty of qualified music education teachers from the elementary school ranks. Do they know anything about marching band? Have they ever worked with high school students? What’s most important to us is that we would be starting all over again, losing momentum, losing the continuity we’ve created.
I strongly urge you to look hard at the impact of losing James Sepulvado at PLHS, and of course, at the loss of music education at the elementary schools. How are we to foster a love of music if it doesn’t begin at the elementary school level? How are we to feed music programs at the middle school and high school levels?
Please do your best to make this right.
Kerri De Rosier lives in Point Loma and is the incoming president of the Point Loma High School Instrumental Music Boosters.