Marching Warriors have winning season, despite economic challenges

FALLBROOK – At their most recent competition, the Big Orange Classic, held at Riverside Community College on Nov. 10, the Fallbrook High School Marching Warrior Band took second place by a scant half point margin and earned the High Visual Effect award. In five previous competitions this year, the Warriors took first place awards. Their success, achieved while dressed in 15-year-old uniforms and using aging, dented instruments, is especially commendable since education budget cuts have had significant impact on the program.

After near elimination from the curriculum in 2011, the Marching Warrior Band has grown and pulled together along with their part-time music teacher, Victor Torres, into a band to be reckoned with in all of Southern California. 

The school district contributes 10 percent of program funding, plus the salary of a part-time music teacher. But the program operating budget, beyond what the district contributes, is currently near $70,000 per year and includes several coaches’ salaries, buying sheet music and drill scripts, entry fees, costumes and flags for Color Guard, transportation, travel, and instrument repairs. Acquiring new instruments and uniforms are not possible at this time.

Parents of students are asked to contribute $450 each but, if there was 100 percent participation, these fees would only fund 35 percent of the budget — and parent participation is low.

“I believe parents think that the school district pays for the program, coaching, instruments and uniforms, like when I was a kid,” said Band Booster president Kelley Thomas. “Communication is difficult and we can’t force parents to contribute. And willing students never get turned away for lack of financial participation.” 

“With the support of many parents, boosters, PTSA, ASB, fundraising efforts, and a few other sponsors, the music program is surviving. But the program is still in jeopardy as it is running in the red. The non-profit Fallbrook Band Boosters owe the school district $12,000 in unreimbursed coaching expenses from previous years. Balloon payments back to the district have been imposed, and the funds to meet those payments are lacking.”

“Without significant new funding and support, this marching band will be reduced to a school pep band, ceasing to perform competitively.”

Find out more about the Fallbrook Marching Warriors, plus watch video of their winning shows, at fallbrookhsband.org. The Marching Warriors not only perform at Fallbrook High football games, but also in the Fallbrook Veterans Day and Christmas parades.

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