Each year, we formulate a budget based on both the things that the band directors want to provide for the program as well as the fundraising projections that PBPA feels are possible. During the year 2013-2014, we noticed that several individual fundraisers were falling short of projection. The band directors attempted to help by cutting corners and saving money where possible without totally sacrificing activities. The directors asked board members on several occasions whether or not the membership at large was aware of the shortfalls and were assured that the information was "out there" and things should be OK. As we arrived at year's end, the directors were told that there was a significant shortfall and that even with additional fundraising efforts in April and May, we would not make budget...in fact...we would pass along a significant deficit to next year's group.
The band directors had formulated a budget for 2014-2015 that included some expansion of instruction to assist with more chamber music, growth of the jazz band(s), and additional section coaching for all instrument groups. We felt that we could help students achieve even greater success with the additional coaching and seminars by qualified professionals from the community. As we negotiated the budget, band fees, and shortfall with the PBPA Board, we were told that even with some additional effort into fundraising, we were still almost $11,000 short of a balanced budget projection. Our fear, as band directors, was that only the few people who had regularly attended meetings were aware of our financial standing.
For the past five years, we had cut the budget in efforts to keep band fees low and fundraising easier. PBPA has not purchased any instruments, our primary adjunct staff members have taken pay cuts, and we have eliminated many "perks" that we used to do for the students (quality of awards, senior recognitions, etc). We had also cut back significantly on our budget for marching show design. The results have been apparent as we have gone away from the big regional and national arenas and been less competitive in marching band activities.
The band directors have been very careful not to overspend budgeted expenses. Only on rare occasions have we gone "over" in a category...typically because an instrument got damaged beyond what we estimated and repair costs ran high, or because we got asked to do an additional performance that required music that we did not own and had to purchase. Unfortunately, when many of the fundraisers are only raising 50% or less of projections, you still fall short.
As a result, there were no categories available to absorb further cuts except for planned instruction. Rather than totally eliminate activities, the band directors were faced with cutting portions from several planned instructional areas. It was not something that we wanted to do, and we were frustrated at the though of giving less to our students than other programs in our area provide for their students. We were told repeatedly by the PBPA Board that they did not want to harm the program, but that the reality was that we could not expect them to raise the funds necessary to provide all of the budgeted items that had been voted on and approved...especially when faced with absorbing a shortfall from last year. The Board has pledged to work diligently to improve our financial status, but unless they can get more parent involvement on fundraisers that benefit the entire band program (not just student accounts), we will not be able to give your students all that we had hoped.
The band directors philosophy is always to improve...strive for the highest levels...involve everyone in the program...never be satisfied with past performance, rather aim higher each year. We need for the parents in the band family to embrace these same ideals. We need involvement, we need participation, and we need to support the program so that the students have every opportunity for success.
The situation is difficult...there will be discussions, likely some accusations, and a lot of speculation. Through it all, the band directors will continue to give the students the best instruction that we can provide, given our resources and available adjunct staff. The PBPA Board will continue to work on getting parents involved and active, and together we will get through the current financial strain. Remember...if we want our kids to get the best, there must be the physical and financial support from the parent community at large.
Thank you for your support and your time in reading this post.