Brothers Cohen (left) and Riley Fitzgerald flank their dad Shawn Fitzgerald in protesting potential SD61 music program cuts near Monterey Middle School, where Riley attends, on Thursday. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)

Brothers Cohen (left) and Riley Fitzgerald flank their dad Shawn Fitzgerald in protesting potential SD61 music program cuts near Monterey Middle School, where Riley attends, on Thursday. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)

Oak Bay family laments potential SD61 music cuts

Students express sadness over possibly losing in-school music programs

Riley Fitzgerald would like school a whole lot less if couldn’t play in the band at Monterey Middle School.

“There really wouldn’t be much to look forward to,” the drummer and bassist said, standing in the rain near his school on Thursday.

As the Greater Victoria School District tries to address a forecast $7.2-million deficit, some music programs once again risk being silenced.

“The fact that they’re trying to take it away is pretty annoying,” Riley said. “I really like to play music, it’s one of my favourite things. I would just be really sad if they took it away.”

The middle schooler was standing alongside his dad and brother as they protested the possible cuts. Like Riley, father Shawn Fitzgerald said they’re tired of having to protest the potential for music – and other programs – to be slashed again.

In the music department, the district is proposing up to $1.2 million in cuts, which could do away with elementary strings, district ukulele, and middle school band and strings – all the programs the learning community fought to save in 2021. A different elementary strings program is proposed for $181,429.

READ: SD61 budget approved, majority of music programs saved

READ: Here we go again: cuts to counselling, music possible for Greater Victoria schools

Riley’s younger brother, Cohen, said students in his grade at Margaret Jenkins elementary only get to play the xylophone now.

“It just makes me sad, it’s fun to play music, it brings joy to people, and they just take that away. If you have to wait until a higher grade, you’re just going to lose interest,” he said.

Shawn said SD61 is treating education like a business and schools should be a place where kids learn beyond basic math and reading skills.

“If we make them wait until they’re 14 years old to even experience music in a school setting, (programs will) lose kids by then. It’ll be too late.”

– with files from Jane Skrypnek

READ: Greater Victoria trustees take civil action in efforts to have suspensions rescinded


jake.romphf@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Musicoak baysd61