La Cumbre Principal Jo Ann Caines says the school's music program only had eight students when she took over in 2008. With more than 100 students participating now, the thriving music program is good news, but she says some classes are too big for the band room.
In parade season — which ended Saturday with the Milpas Holiday Parade — the entire band practices outside, since instruments and drums can’t fit anywhere else at the same time.
Neighbors are particularly peeved about the drum classes, which pound away for most of the school day at the campus at 2255 Modoc Road on Santa Barbara's Westside.
Several Vista del Campo residents came out to Tuesday’s Santa Barbara Unified School District board meeting to ask for a reprieve.
Nancy Goodfriend said her house’s windows literally vibrate with the noise. There hadn’t been a problem until last year, “when this infamous drumming started,” she said.
Mary Jo McGrath, another close neighbor, said she loves the music program but the “incessant drumming most of the day” sounds like it’s right in her living room.
She asked the school district to ban drumming electives until students can be housed indoors.
Two drumming students defended the program, saying it helps them express themselves and would leave a hole in their daily activities if eliminated.
Construction on the school's auditorium will continue until August, but Caines said there will be more restricted outside drumming after Saturday’s parade.
The campus shares its multipurpose room with the Santa Barbara Community Academy, which has its own music program, she noted. Students use drum heads to muffle sound in the mornings and the school has always worked to be a good neighbor, she said.
The 120 students in the band, drumline and drill team performed at Santa Barbara’s Downtown Holiday Parade and led off the Milpas Holiday Parade.
While there was only one call to police at La Cumbre, there have been many more about La Colina’s band, Sgt. Riley Harwood told Noozhawk.
The complaints are mostly from one neighbor, he said, and the issue really isn’t a criminal one or disturbing the peace.
“We’re dealing with students doing an activity at a school during a time of day and location where it’s basically expected to happen," he said. "Even though they are willfully playing music, it’s not like they’re doing it maliciously."
Police beat coordinator Jon Reyes said Principal David Ortiz even moved the band practice to the parking lot from the multipurpose field to put it behind additional buildings at the campus at 4025 Foothill Road on Santa Barbara's Northside. That still hasn’t completely appeased the neighbors, Reyes said.
Beat coordinators try to have parties work things out since someone’s quality of life is affected, Harwood said. There are no criminal violations so the only other remedy would be a civil resolution against the school, he said.
“I don’t know how successful that would be," he said. "All over the country, they play music during school and in after-school program hours.”
Harwood said it’s the first year he’s heard of it being an issue.