Studio to School

Eye on Year Five: Strengths and Risks for SBMF/Lincoln City S2S Project

Here in Lincoln City, as we stride through year three, our Studio to School project has been refined into delivering — and helping our school district deliver — some very specific experiences for our kids. We are focused primarily on a) providing a full year of daily band instruction for all sixth graders, b) removing the economic barriers to participation in music (instruments, uniforms, etc) for all students K-12, but especially those in grade 6-8. Secondary goals include professional development for our music staff, outreach experiences that expand our students’ horizons, and the connections of the lowest income students (homeless students, especially) to music education. Here’s our draft of the logic model, from our Rendezvous:

The draft of our logic model for the next three years, from our work in Hood River at the 2016 Rendezvous.

Our team meets once a month, before school at a local coffee shop, and with the leadership of Christine Tell spends an hour focusing on the Year Three projects with an eye to Year Four and Year Five.

Strength One: Retention and support of teachers

One of our greatest strengths, which we are planning to leverage going forward, is the 2017-18 retention of the cadre of highly qualified music teachers resulting from our partnership with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD). Before our project began in Fall 2014, the district had 1 FTE music teacher for all programs at Taft 7-12 High School. At the elementary level, classroom teachers provided music instruction supplemented by a tech specialist who also taught the recorder. Here’s what has happened since then:

  1. In 2014-15 LCSD increased staffing from 1 FTE to 2 FTE in order to add another full-time music teacher to teach for one semester at Oceanlake Elementary School and 1 semester at Taft Elementary School. This allowed us to establish a one semester program of sequential music instruction focused on music literacy. Our S2S funds provided instruments, costumes, music, outreach, professional development and other building blocks that the schools needed to re-establish their dormant music programs. 
  2. In 2015-16 LCSD maintained 2 FTE for music instruction. Music was required for all 130 6th graders (daily class for full year) when mathematic and reading assessment data revealed that students who participated in music improved their academic performance. Our S2S funds provided all the same building blocks mentioned above, plus a team of contract assistants that helped make sense of the 130-member sixth grade band, especially in the first semester. 
  3. In 2016-17 LCSD increased music teaching staff time from 2 FTE to 2.5 FTE. We now have a year-long sequential music instruction in grades K-5, required Band for all 130 6th graders (daily class for full year) and band and vocal electives for 7th and 8th graders. Our project continues to build these programs with supplies, instruments, music and professional development, and funds one long-term and several short-term contract teaching assistants. 

Now in the 3rd year of our Studio to School Project – the LCSD district has cited the Lincoln City School music programs as “exemplary programs that serve as models for all other schools.” Maintaining our cadre of highly qualified music teachers is important to sustaining our program. We are now providing full year music programs to all 940 students in grades K-6.

Strength 2: Continued community support

  1. We have developed a group of volunteer musicians from our senior community members (some former educators) who provide instructional support and teach sectionals allowing us to provide individual skill-building to our beginning musicians;
  2. Local businesses provided meals and support for arts/musical camps that are scheduled during holiday vacations and,
  3. The K-6 parent group provided support for instruments for grades K-2 and are focused on acquiring sound systems for the elementary schools.

Strength Three: Generating other grants and outside support

  • We are successfully generating small grants (around $20,000 total per year) as we move into the final 2 years of OCF funding. A strength of our applications has been our ability to access school-wide data on how music improves the academic performance of students in mathematics and reading.

Strength Four: Non-profit organization leveraging expertise, networks

  • Finally, our two major partners are committed to providing activities that will contribute to sustaining our program. The Siletz Bay Music Festival will offer a portion of their annual fundraiser – Winterfest – to generate funds for instruments. The Lincoln City Cultural Center will continue to take the lead in coordinating outreach activities and artists in residence. Here’s a recent informational piece, inserted into the SBMF annual program and printed separately as a public info piece: studio-to-school-2016-program

Our team has now been through several OCF Rendezvous experiences together, and have made connections with other S2S teams across the state. From them, we have learned that we are fortunate to have a stable team core (four of us have been part of the project since 2014) that enables us to make decisions quickly and without fanfare. The selection of these principals and teachers (and the positions themselves) is out of our control, and thus presents a potential risk to sustainability in the long term.

Challenge One: Sequential learning depends on district budgets, which are beyond our control

  • The Lincoln City S2S Music is Instrumental program relies upon continued staffing of highly qualified music teachers from the LCSD. The addition of music teachers at the elementary has already made a positive difference in the readiness of students entering sixth-grade band. But the elementary school FTE was only added this year, and it would probably be the first to be eliminated, in the face of a budget shortfall. In a recent presentation, however, the LCSD School Board was quite positive regarding the impact of the program. We will continue to advocate at the district level, to ensure that administrators and board members stay aware of our support and success. 

Challenge/Risk Two: Possible loss of key leaders

  • Leadership matters. Our program also depends on our principals Majalise Tolan, Nick Lupo and Sandy Mummy who are exemplary leaders. Their ability to collaborate with one another, with teachers within buildings and with community members is positive and impacts our work in numerous ways. It would be difficult to continue without them. However, we recognize that it is impossible to prevent personnel changes over a five-year span. 

Challenge Three: Expanding program = expanding instrument costs

  • Our goal is to bring sequential music instruction into the lives of more students, especially in the middle school years. The success of this program, however, has created large blocks of students who wish to continue to participate in band or choir but do not own or rent their own instruments. We plan to continue providing instruments to those who need them, while encouraging independent ownership by parents and advanced students.

Challenge Four: Band Boosters

  • One of our plans for long-term sustainability is a Band Booster program, which would involve parents and raise $5K to $15K each year to support band instruments and supplies. We still need to identify the key leaders that might establish this group and create priorities and momentum for it to continue past Year 5. We are a small school, and many of our students are involved in athletics, drama, student council, robotics, etc., as well as music. Likewise, their parents are already involved in athletic boosters, drama club support, etc. We’ve had a bit of trouble starting a new activity for these already-busy parents.

Conclusion

Our most recent analysis of sustainability in Years Four and Five concludes that S2S/Music is Instrumental will be able to continue supporting our primary goals with our reduced grant budget in Year Four and Year Five. It is our hope that other grant sources and band boosters will be able to provide $5K to $20K in additional support to cover our secondary goals, such as outreach, field trips and professional development.

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