The corporation is organized for charitable and educational purposes including, but not limited to, promoting appreciation of music and its fundamental importance to the community and enriching, sustaining and developing music programs in the Watertown Public Schools of Watertown, Massachusetts.
In order to enrich offerings within the public schools, funds raised will support essential elements of the music program beyond the means of public funding, including the following: teacher stipends (and, in the event of a critical need, salaries); course offerings; teacher grants for continuing education and/or classroom enhancement; ensemble groups; instrument purchase and repair; scholarship fund for instrument rental; materials and supplies; visiting performers; and student field trips. Funds raised shall only be used for purposes delineated above.
Friends of Watertown Music formed in the summer of 2011 in response to the economic recession that began in 2008. Consecutive years of dwindling state contributions to town budgets on the heels of limited tax revenue and rising costs contributed to great difficulty maintaining services within the school budget. The music program (general music, chorus, band, and orchestra) lost its curriculum coordinator for the 2010-11 school year (FY11) and was threatened with losing an additional 1.5 of 6.2 full-time equivalent teaching positions for fiscal year 2012, including not filling the music position at the Middle School upon the retirement of their long-time teacher, and also the elimination of the elementary instrument program.
At the low point, the department had just 5.2 teaching positions, no curriculum coordinator, and teachers who traveled from school to school. While the remaining music teachers tried creatively to continue the instruments program that begins in fourth grade, the breadth and depth of the program is in jeopardy, from general music and enrichment offerings at all levels to enhanced opportunities within the instrument program such as the stage band and full orchestra. Parents and students advocated strongly for preserving the program throughout the budget process in 2011 and annually thereafter.
While Friends of Watertown Music has awarded a few small grants to support teacher initiatives, our greatest impact has been to award incremental grants to expand teaching staff positions. Each grant has been matched at least 2.5 : 1 by the schools and eventually incorporated into the school budget. We awarded almost $21,000 for these teaching grants from individual donations. The current music program now has 9.2 teaching positions, including a curriculum coordinator, and is larger than it was before the budget cuts! Any elementary student at any elementary school may now choose among all instruments schools, and more general music is offered at the middle and high schools. Instruction on string instruments now begins in 3rd grade. Please see a complete list of our grants here.
Most importantly, it is the hope of those creating this organization that the music program will remain comprehensive: it will not require students to be performers but will allow all students to encounter music as an essential part of their education throughout all grade levels.
The Superintendent of the Watertown Public Schools or any teacher currently employed by the Watertown Public Schools may request funding for any of the purposes listed above. The Friends of Watertown Music Board of Directors will evaluate the request within 60 days and decide whether the request is consistent with the mission of the fund and if there are sufficient monies to grant the request in whole or in part. The Board of Directors will meet annually and as often as necessary to consider requests during each fiscal year. Each year Friends of Watertown Music will distribute funds to the School Department specifically for the most urgent music program needs which are brought forward by the Superintendent in response to Requests for Proposals by Friends of Watertown Music.