Many band programs and their booster clubs have active fundraising campaigns under way to offset cuts made to the Cherokee County School District's fiscal year 2011 budget.
The school district made $177,500 in funding reductions to middle and high school band operations. As a result, the district can no longer pay for the purchase of new music, repair of broken instruments or travel to away games for high school bands.
The district is paying band teachers' salaries, said Mike McGowan, district director of public information, communications and partnerships, noting the $177,500 is just a snippet when compared to $50 million in cuts the district had to make over the past three years.
At Creekland Middle School, students and the band booster club are "looking outside the box" when it comes to fundraisers, said Lena Lyons, band booster club president.
The band is in the running to win a Power a Brighter Future grant from the Clorox Corporation. Individuals can nominate a school in need for a chance to win a $50,000 grand prize or one of three $20,000 grants to help provide resources to schools.
Voting ends on Friday, and people in the community can visit the website at www.creeklandband.com to vote for the school.
If Creekland wins, the money would be used to maintain instruments, Ms. Lyons said.
Also, the booster club is teaming up with Chick-fil-A at Canton Marketplace for Creekland Night on Nov. 11. A portion of the sales will go toward the school.
Play N Trade on RiverStone Parkway in Canton is also donating a percentage of the sales to the school if the customer mentions the band.
Later this year, the club will likely conduct "traditional" fundraisers, she said, such as selling cookie dough and a spring yard sale.
Ms. Lyons said everyone at Creekland is "positive" about raising the funds to supplement its program and understands the district was "forced" to make the cuts.
"It will take a lot of hard work," she said, adding the "kids aren't going to suffer" for a budget gap.
Students and parents at Dean Rusk Middle School decided to forgo fundraisers in favor of charging $2 admission to its concerts, said Band Director Barbara Jones-Kelner.
If the program doesn't make enough money to cover its costs, Ms. Jones-Kelner added she may have to raise the admission to $3. She added that Principal Dr. Adrian Thomason has set aside some money from the school's budget for instrument repairs.
Students are selling cheesecake at Freedom Middle School to bring in the extra bucks for its band program.
Band Director Jonathan Bishop said the fundraiser should bring in between $3,000 and $4,000. While that may seem like enough, the program is in need of another tuba, which "would just about eat that" up.
Bishop said the biggest impact of the cuts is on the ability to provide instruments to students who may not be able to purchase them.
He plans to begin lobbying local businesses to donate funds toward the program and will explore holding a pizza night at the school.
Sequoyah High School's band booster club began fundraising in the summer to prepare for the cuts. It held two carwashes to raise money for its operations, said Gerald Gardner, band booster club president, which brought in $2,300.
"We are trying to do everything we can to fill that void, and it's a pretty big void," he said.
The school was unable to sell funnel cakes this year due to county rules limiting the use of fryers. Instead, Gardner said the booster club sold grilled chicken wings and sauce.
Band students now are doing a fruit and nut sale, and the school's Color Guard is selling Avon products. In December, Gardner said, the students will sell cookie dough and cheesecake.
In the spring, the school will hold its annual Taste of Sequoyah event, which Gardner said he hopes the community will support.
"It's tough to keep pounding the community for additional funds back to back," said.
The Woodstock High School band program is in the midst of selling Honey Baked Ham products and pecans. In November, it will start selling Indian River citrus fruits from Florida and in December, it will hold its annual Taste of Woodstock event.
Band Director Bob Loehr said the program in July began seeking online pledges from businesses in the community. Loehr said students and parents have been understanding and dedicated.
"We knew this was going to hit us," he said. "Our kids persevere through anything."
Cherokee High School band students have been more fortunate.
Band students have raised enough money to attend all five away football games, said Band Director Garrick Cheyne. The students after each home game stay into the night and clean the stadium, and the school's administration pays them for the work.
Also, the school hosted the county's marching band exposition earlier this year and sold concessions and merchandise, which Cheyne said raised about $5,000. In the winter, the band students will begin soliciting sponsors and donations to fund a trip to Florida to attend a band clinic.
Cheyne added he hopes the band's annual Taste of Cherokee event, which will be held in the spring, will bring in $8,000.
The school has caught a break on repairing broken instruments, too. Cheyne's father, Donald Cheyne, teaches a class at Reinhardt University on how to repair musical instruments, and his students repair the band's instruments.
Cherokee High's band students also understand the situation, he said, and haven't complained about logging the extra hours to raise money.
"We know that times are tough for everybody," he said.