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Musicians, business team up to raise school music funds

by San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO — What better way to promote music in the schools than with music — and mouse traps.

To help rebuild the San Diego Unified School District’s budget for music education, a local exterminator helped launch the “Find Your Voice” campaign to raise up to $175,000 to support music and art lessons for children throughout the city.

The campaign itself is the result of an unlikely collaboration, one that plugs a pest control company and radio station while it also plugs the district’s budget hole.

Lloyd Pest Control teamed up with KPRi radio station and local up-and-coming musicians for the project.

The money is coming in through sales of a $5 “Find Your Voice” CD, a collection of local music — including Dynamite Walls, Superunloader and Michael Tiernan. A series of concerts held on San Diego campuses showcases some of the bands from the CD, as well as student musicians.

When Karen Childress-Evans, who heads the district’s visual and performing arts department, was approached about the campaign, she was skeptical.

“I thought, ‘What’s in it for them?’” she said. “Of course, they get advertising. It’s a creative and innovative way to advertise and it helps us. We are so grateful because funds for visual and performing arts have never been scarcer.”

If the campaign reaches its $175,000 goal, that’s almost enough to restore the district’s art and music budget for materials, student concerts and instrument repairs — it went from $250,000 last year to $34,000 this school year. That would put the music and art department in good shape for at least a year (deep budget cuts and layoffs are expected next year) since the district canceled layoffs issued to music teachers.

So far, two schools have hosted “Find Your Voice” concerts. University City High School is set to host one September 30 and an undesignated campus will host one some time in October. Schools that host concerts receive $2,500 from Lloyd pest Control. 

Jamie Ogle, president of the company, said he hopes the to start a trend among businesses.

“Arts budgets have been slashed,” Ogle said. “This was just an idea to help make up for some of their funding cuts. We also did this to help mark (the company’s) 80th anniversary and give back to the community.”

The district has no plans to partner with more businesses. Although, San Diego Unified welcomes donations, it’s a delicate area, said Berine Rhinerson, the superintendent’s chief of staff.

“The focus has to be on helping schools and not selling products,” Rhinerson said. “We welcome support for our schools in this budget environment, but at the same time we are not endorsing any products.”

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