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Orange County

Hyundai to Help Keep Music in Fountain Valley Schools

April 23, 2003|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America kicked off a campaign Tuesday to raise $100,000 to save one of the city's elementary school music programs endangered by state budget cuts.

The company said at the district's annual arts festival fund-raiser that it will match each dollar raised by other businesses and community members up to $50,000.

The Fountain Valley School District is bracing for up to $2 million in state cuts to next year's $42-million budget.

To keep the budget crunch as far away from core academic subjects as possible, supplemental programs, such as band, are often the first to be eliminated.

District foundations, which traditionally have shouldered much of those programs' cost, have been strained by years of budget cuts. Increasingly, they are turning to corporate-driven efforts, school officials said.

Fountain Valley's foundation has funded the district's $50,000 vocal music program for the last six years and will continue next year. But funding for the instrumental music program was eliminated at a February board meeting.

Supt. Marc Ecker said he is grateful for Hyundai's help.

"The elementary program provides a vital kickoff to a lifetime of appreciating the arts," he said.

"Our emphasis on music has always been one of the components that makes this district special."

Proposals to maintain instrumental music have included charging a monthly fee from $35 to $55, a system decried by parents who fear arts education would become elitist.

Hyundai has given money to Fountain Valley schools for years on an individual basis, but company officials thought a matching campaign would more effectively serve the entire 6,300-student district.

The company will hold breakfasts or other events to solicit donations from businesses before the campaign ends June 30, and Hyundai will match each dollar given by another donor, said Andrea Gruber, assistant manager of Hyundai's community relations.

Gruber said they also will ask businesses to make long-term commitments to arts education to ensure continued support.

"A big part of a child's development are those enriching activities outside their academics," she said. "We hate to see any school district forgo things like that."

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