Ignoring repeated parental opposition, the Fulton County School Board on Thursday night voted to cut elementary school band and orchestra classes.
The move was part of a tentative approval of the district's total budget of $1.17 billion for 2011. A final vote on the district's budget is set for June 15.
Fulton County schools faced a budget gap of $117 million for the coming school year. In response, the school board has cut almost 1,000 positions, three school days from next year's calendar and programs such as band and orchestra for fourth- and fifth-graders, and increased class sizes.
Fulton laid off 206 teachers and 203 non-teachers, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Cindy Loe said. The district was able to reduce about 600 other positions through attrition, she said.
The school board voted 6-1 to tentatively approve the budget on Thursday night, with board member Ashley Widener dissenting. The board will have a budget hearing to discuss raising the millage rate by 1 mill on June 8.
Fulton County parent Betty Lingle stood at the school board meeting with about two dozen other parents who supported instrumental music instruction in the elementary schools. She held up a sign with an eighth note.
"I know music is a brain-booster; it's closely tied to math skills," said Lingle, whose daughter played cello for two years in fourth and fifth grade and will go to middle school next year and have an existing orchestra.
Fulton will offer after-school band and orchestra for one hour per week for a fee of $50 per month.
"I don't think it will be successful," Lingle said.
Sharon Anderson, Fulton schools' department chair for orchestra, lost her job as a result of the cuts. She was among 50 instrumental music teachers who were laid off.
"I was forced into retirement," Anderson said. She had been with Fulton Schools for 33 years. Earlier this week 270 fourth- and fifth-graders played a goodbye tribute concert for her and the other band and orchestra directors.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.