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Music program for 15 Newton schools saved after funding restored

NEWTON, Mass. — The String and Orchestra program will not be cut in the Newton School District, according to a district spokesperson.

The program was allocated new sources of funding in the school system’s 2023-2024 Fiscal Year budget.

“Every fourth and fifth-grade student will be able to receive a musical education regardless of their family’s ability to access instruments or pay for private lessons,” said Save Newton Strings in a statement.

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The sound of string music could be getting cut for hundreds of fourth and fifth graders at all 15 of Newton’s elementary schools. Students and parents are frustrated by the proposal.

“Band is not getting cut it seems kind of unfair they are not the same!” says Jordyne Wu, a school parent.

On Monday evening, dozens of students gathered on the front lawn of the district’s administration building begging the Newton School Committee not to stop the music.

“Trying to get rid of it is like trying to tear apart what we’ve made, the friends that we have made and that is not right,” says a student.

Teachers who organized the “Stringfest” say taking away strings and orchestra for students is like taking away their sense of belonging.

“Orchestra for so many kids is a place where they build community, and they feel like they belong,” says Eric Ritter, a music teacher at Williams Elementary School.

The strings and orchestra program amounts to only about $100,000 of the district’s more than $275 million dollar budget-the equivalent of one full-time teaching position. The interim school superintendent watched as students made their voices heard through music.

“We are concerned when there are any reductions because of budget and not because of the program itself and this is one of those programs. It is highly valued, and we will do our very best to make sure we support our students,” says Dr. Kathleen Smith, Interim Newton Superintendent.

“That is their responsibility to find the money because it is here,” says Ritter.

A decision is expected to be made before the end of the week.

The school superintendent also says me more than 50 teacher positions could be on the chopping block as part of the budget cuts.

If passed, the cuts would be effective July 1, 2023

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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