The Peninsula

The Friends of Music, a nonprofit group that promotes instrumental music education in the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, will launch a $51,000 fund-raising drive aimed at restoring the instruction program at the elementary level that was cut from the district's budget this year.

Brigitte Schuegraf, president of the group, and David Muir, secretary, said they will start with a mailing to Peninsula residents and follow with two fund-raising events.

Under an agreement reached with district trustees on Tuesday night, the group will have to raise about two-thirds of its goal by Oct. 1 in order to restore the instrumental program, with the balance due by the end of the school year. If the group meets the deadline, the district will allocate an additional $30,000 to help pay the salaries of two music teachers and other costs of the program.

In the past, a third, more specialized music teacher has participated in the instrumental program, but the trustees said it would be financially impractical to attempt to restore that position.

District planners have almost routinely dropped the elective instrumental music program from initial budgets in the annual effort to cope with declining enrollment and shrinking revenues. In response to the first cut about a decade ago, Friends of Music, which contends that instrumental instruction is essential to children's intellectual and social development, launched a fund-raising effort that salvaged the program.

Since then, the program has managed to survive from year to year through supplementary state appropriations. But this year, district officials say, no rescue funds from Sacramento are in sight.

Music appreciation courses in the schools are a required part of the curriculum and therefore are not affected by budget cuts that can be made in elective programs.

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