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Prairie Spirit School Division reconsiders band program cut

A letter expected to be released Wednesday by the Prairie Spirit School Division states it will now continue its existing band program next year.
A letter expected to be released Wednesday by the Prairie Spirit School Division states it will now continue its existing band program next year. File / Global News

SASKATOON – The Prairie Spirit School Division has decided not to phase out its band program next year, according to a letter obtained by Global News. The letter, which is expected to be released Wednesday, states the “existing band program will continue next year without interruption.”

“The board will continue to provide financial support to keep the band music programs operating in their current locations,” according to the letter which is signed by John Kuzbik, the division’s director of education.

The school division announced last week it planned to phase out its band program amid a $7.1 million funding shortfall and low high school participation rates. The letter states that the decision to keep the band program does not resolve the issue.

READ MORE: Student takes action after Prairie Spirit moves to cut band program

“The $7.1 million shortfall is challenging our board to provide educational opportunities that our communities expect and deserve,” the letter states.

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“Music education, including the continuation of the Prairie Spirit’s band program, is important, but it requires funding.”

On Monday night, the east Prairie Spirit School Division played their annual year end concert in Saskatoon. Afterwards, a number of student musicians said they were disappointed with the division’s decision.

READ MORE: Saskatoon-area school concert band plays last show before cuts

An online petition started by Shawna Langer, a Langham-area student, to keep the program intact had just over 5,600 signatures as of Tuesday evening.

“It’s not something that I expected to happen,” said Langer, on hearing the news the program may not be cut. “It’s awesome.”

The letter thanked the teachers involved in the division’s band program and those who presented “feedback and … passion for musical excellence.”

“We apologize for any emotion and hardship that you experienced when you learned that the band Program was going to be eliminated,” states the letter.

“Your voice helped us reconsider.”