“We’ve had our people in Hays asking for orchestra for as long as I have lived here, so this is a huge thing,” HCISD board of trustees member Meredith Keller said at the Oct. 21 meeting when the item was approved. “I’m super proud to take these steps.”
The program itself will not be offered until the 2020-21 school year, and accordingly the expenditure of $195,000 for the new instructors will be part of next year’s budget. But Superintendent Eric Wright said the district wanted to start looking for candidates soon so that recruiting fifth-graders to begin the program next year can begin in January.
“We have many, many people that wish for their kids to participate in strings education,” Wright said. “And we all know that there is a direct correlation between math and science and those that are involved in music, so we just see it as a great opportunity.”
The orchestra instructors will be based in either Dahlstrom, McCormick or Barton middle schools, which do not have mariachi programs, but each teacher will also be assigned to a second school and will likely spend part of every day at either Chapa, Wallace or Simon middle schools alongside existing mariachi teachers.
Wright said that after those students begin orchestra in the sixth grade, the program will follow them as they move up in grades, and eventually orchestra will be offered at the district’s high schools.
One of the items on the in-progress project list for a potential 2020 bond is $2.08 million for musical instruments that would both replace current equipment and supply the new orchestra program. Wright emphasized that the bond was far from determined, but that the orchestra program would start with or without that funding.
“We want to start this program regardless of a bond were to pass or not just because we think that student interest across the district is here,” he said. “We will discuss through this upcoming budget, and we’ll look at all the options, and if we are fortunate enough to have something in the bond, then that can be one avenue for for revenue.”