No Decision Yet On Intermediate School Music
Interim schools chief says parent survey, input, to be sought on plan to bump music to before or after school
Interim Superintendent Stephanie Bilenker on Tuesday morning broke the district’s silence and said no decision has yet been made on bumping music instruction from the Intermediate School schedule next year.
However, the district is firm on doubling its math and language arts instruction at the expense of a support period currently built into the schedule. That support period has traditionally been used for the 280 music students in the middle school for instruction, Bilenker said.
Bilenker was clear that under the school scheduled being developed now, instruction in language arts and mathematics would increase to 80 minutes a day for sixth and seventh grade students and to 60 minutes for eighth grade students, but was unsure exactly how long each day students currently receive music instruction.
The district is proposing that music instruction for the next school year be moved to either a before-school or after-school period, extending the school day only for those students who wish to continue music instruction, Bilenker said.
Music instruction would continue to be a graded course, she said.
Music instruction — which includes chorus, band and orchestra — is currently run in two sessions during the school day, Bilenker said in a second interview later Tuesday.
Students receive small group or individual music instruction during a "lunch/study''period by cutting their lunch period in half: 20 minutes for lunch; 20 minutes for music, if they so choose, Bilenker said.
The second session is a twice weekly large group practice held during a 40-minute "academic support period,'' or, essentially, a study hall period. That period will be eliminated under the proposal being considered for next year, Bilenker said.
For students not already enrolled in music, that period will disappear, Bilenker said.
Bilenker said she has received numerous letters from parents protesting the proposal.
Many of those letters were the result of a solicitation of opinion on the district's plans that began with an email to district parents on Friday.
That email was sent to district parents and obtained by Wall Patch from Jim Boyle, of Orchard Crest Boulevard. It spilled the beans on the district's plans to bump music instruction from the regular school day and place it in a before-school period for those students who want to continue music instruction.
Boyle on Monday said since Friday he had received 38 responses — 35 of which opposed the plan — to the email address he set up to collect community response, email@example.com.
Bilenker said, however, that the 2012-13 school schedule is still in flux, and that parent input would be sought on a proposal that would place music instruction either on a before- or after-school period.
"Nothing has been firmed up,'' Bilenker said.
She said a parent survey was being developed that will appear on the district's website asking which of the two options — before or after school music instruction — would be preferable. The survey could be on the site as early as today, she said.
Transportation will be provided for music students, if parents decide
Wall Intermediate School has been identified as a "school in need of improvement'' by the state Department of Education.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, schools that for two years or more fail to make "adequate yearly progress'' as measured by standardized testing scores are given this designation, which requires the school to take steps to improve scores or face losing federal funding.