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Seine River to shoulder band instrument costs

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 05/13/2018 12:00 PM

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Seine River School Division trustees marched to the beat of the same drum Tuesday, agreeing to cover middle school band instrument rental costs for the next two school years.

"We’re moving away from parents having to pay for a reason: because we don’t want there to be a burden on parents that can’t afford to do it. We don’t want kids to go without the opportunity," trustee Greg Reid explained.

Starting this fall, parents of Grade 7 and 8 students, and of Grade 6 students in schools offering band, won’t have to pay roughly $200 annually for a flute, clarinet, trumpet, or trombone rental, said superintendent Mike Borgfjord.

The division made Grade 7 and 8 band mandatory six years ago, Borgfjord said, as 85 percent were already opting in, and trustees have mulled a divisional rental agreement ever since.

Bulk pricing through St John’s Music will see SRSD pay $139 plus tax per instrument.

To reduce costs further, the division will also call into service its existing stockpile of 244 instruments, said Monica Biggar, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, who presented figures to the board following a preliminary discussion two weeks ago.

For 2018-2019, the rental agreement will cost SRSD an estimated $97,000, said secretary treasurer Paul Ilchena. A divisional surplus will fund it this year, while trustees elected this fall will decide how to pay for the second year.

Uncertainty over provincial education funding prompted trustees to shy away from inking a longer-term deal.

The agreement covers normal wear and tear, but parents will be liable for willful damage. While the rental agreement excludes insurance, Borgfjord recalled the cost of insurance exceeded repairs when the division began allowing students to take home iPads several years ago.

Trustees left a damage deposit decision to administration, and deferred a larger discussion on whether or not to standardize Grade 6 band across the entire division. Changing that should involve consultations with music teachers, Borgfjord said.

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