With the school district's budget being cut every year for the past three years, it become harder and harder for the band to excel with the funding provided to them and, like many other programs in the district, the music program is seeking other sources for funding.
Rev. Charles Young with the Cleveland High School Band Boosters spoke to at the Cleveland School District board meeting recently requesting more funding and explaining why such funding is necessary for the program.
The program requested $30,000 from the board. They are currently getting $15,000 and two-thirds of that money goes to travel costs for away football games.
"There is no single manifestation that universally embraces and impacts every human being from the womb to the tomb than the aspect of music," said Young.
Young compared the band's revenue and revenue of other programs as an illustration of the difficulties the music program has in regards to funding.
"I do not come naïve to the reality that the dollars are fewer, the requirements are greater, and the value of the dollar is continuing to decline. The cost of logistics alone to support the sporting events, even at the homes games, must be born of a finite amount of funds," he said.
Young explained that while the band plays at football games, their main competitions are sometimes unattainable due to lack of funding.
"The events that allow for the band to compete and receive awards that are specific to their own discipline must all be afforded by that same finite source of funding
"There are a number of competitions that are significant to the music program as playoffs competitions are to the athletic department.
"The ability to participate in these events is directly related to the cost required to attend—unfortunately our kids have not been able to participate in some of these events," said Young.
Young told the board that while the funds for the school district and the band are decreasing, the amount of students in the program increases.
"In the past five years that Mr. Fuller has been over the music department at Cleveland High School — and by the way Mr. Fuller is the first band director to be here for over five years since the late ’80s — he has developed a program from a disorganized, unmotivated group of about 15 to 20 students to a state recognized superior rated band of almost 100 active members.
"Not only that but under his leadership the program has expanded to include middle and junior high school students that are actually doing performances," said Young.
Clay Fuller, Cleveland High School Band director, explained that the school district provides only a third of what is needed for the program each year.
Having the band uniforms cleaned once costs close to $1,000.
Fuller said instruments are expensive and while the school pays for some instruments, such as tubas, students have to purchase other instruments if they intend to play.
"A tuba is $3,500 and we can't ask a parent to pay for a tuba so we provide one. A tuba of course is the hardest thing to get a kid to want to play. We want to get correct balance of instrumentation. If you bake a cake with no sugar in there, it won't be right. If you've got a band without any tubas or too many of something then your balance is off and the sound is not correct," said Fuller.
"We don’t have any double reeds — no bassoons or oboes. A beginner level bassoon is at least $4,000. The set of timpani we have was bought in the ’50s. That's going to be our next big purchase," he added.
Fuller also said these instruments need to be replaced about every 12 years and because that it not a possibility, band members and directors have had to patch instruments and do the best they could with what they had.
"They are just worn out. The solder can only break and be repaired so many times. You get a kid who wants to be in band and then you hand them this piece of junk, dented up, 50 year old horn, and they don't want to play it," he said.
Fuller said they have lost 30 or 40 kids because they couldn’t be in band because there were not enough instruments and the students could not pay for their instrument out of pocket.
Other items that cost a great deal for the program are refurbishing six concert tubas, which costs $350 each, purchasing new reeds that must be replaced more often, at least 12 pieces of music per concert, which costs $50 to $100.
Fuller said the booster club provides most of their funding and the band also plans to do another fundraiser to prepare for competitions.
Fuller hopes to see an increase in funding for the band due to the importance of the music program to Cleveland High School.
"Cleveland High School's band is the most visible part of Cleveland High School because when we go to the different competitions throughout the fall there are 3 to 4,000 people at those competitions."