The band plays on

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In this community, particularly in these times, it is foolish to “cry wolf” over financial need, especially as it relates to the needs of our schools. Our SMC/ Malibu High School Jazz Band was canceled in July for funding reasons. End of story, done deal! I unhappily accepted that reality for a few weeks and then, just before school started, began to do some checking. I found out that the SMC/ Santa Monica High School Jazz Band was not canceled. We play as a combined group every year at Stairway and enroll the same amount of students each year and go to various festivals and contribute to our respective communities. Why would we be canceled? We only have two SMC classes at Malibu as it is.

This disparity between the two schools started to bother me and upon discussions at the dinner table prompted a letter to the editor from my wife, Leslie Bixler. This in turn, prompted an article written by Jonathan Friedman, which appeared in last week’s paper. He contacted SMC like any reputable journalist would do to get some answers, and did.

The SMC spokesperson said it was due to lack of enrollment. I found that very interesting since we had 37 enrolled students in the spring semester, 12 more than the minimum required to have a class. Traditionally you don’t enroll any new students for the fall until September. When you are told in July that there is no class for September, you don’t make any attempt to enroll new students at all. Why recruit students into something that doesn’t exist?

I want to think that this was just a misunderstanding but my biggest regret is going to the community for funding help when it wasn’t needed. There is no question that our school, as a whole, needs community help through the Shark Fund which distributes to the Arts Angels, Athletic Boosters and all of the academic classes who need it. However, privately funding a class for the wrong reasons isn’t acceptable.

I would like to thank Mr. Van Dyke and other people who did, in fact, offer their support. And I would like to thank Olivia Damavandi (an ex-student) for her interest.

Bill Bixler

Instrumental Music and Audio Tech