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Catalyst Chicago Magazine - News and Analysis

Sunday, March 29, 2009

News Flash!!!

At the School Board “Committee of the Board” meeting on Tuesday evening. The board approved cuts to administration, and also approved a maximum cut of $700,000 to elementary instrumental music and a maximum cut of $450,000 to athletics. These cuts might become smaller, if the District is able to identify other savings.

This is half the original proposed cut to instrumental music.

The District is proposing that (a) each SPPS elementary school have one day of instrumental music education funded by the District, and that (b) music magnet schools (4 Seasons, Franklin, Monroe Linwood A+, and Mississippi Magnet) be maintained at the same District funding level for one year. Schools have the option to pay for additional instructional time from their own budgets.

This is great news, here’s why we think so:

· The board is rethinking its position.

· funding is central

Not-so-good news, here’s why we think so:

· We still stand to lose 10 instrumental positions which is 12.5% of all music teachers.

· Schools can chose to defund their music programs district money or not.

· 1 day per week isn’t enough for many schools (Expo, Capitol Hill, etc.)

District wants the teacher to spend an entire day at a specified school – that won’t be effective because band/string teachers can’t pull students out of many classes - leads to a teacher who has periods when there aren’t any students available to teach!


  • Teachers will be forced to make painful choices about who will be excluded from their Band/Strings programs.
  • Teachers may be forced to take on many large groups of different abilities and/or instrument types effectively compromising learning standards.
  • Lesson times will be severely abbreviated also compromising learning standards.
According to the National Standards in the Elementary Music we should have:

  • A minimum of two 30-minute group lessons per week, with a maximum of 4 students with the same instruments. (all flutes, all trumpets, etc.)
  • When the students have successfully accomplished half of their beginning text, an ensemble class of no less than 30 minutes (45 is better) should be added once a week.

Here’s what we think needs to happen:

  • Keep the cuts from the kids, cut elsewhere.
  • Teachers need to be directly involved in any re-structuring of the instrumental music program
  • St. Paul needs to manage its instrument assets. People involved in the repair process, both within the District staff and vendors, should help plan this. We think money could be saved!
  • Saint Paul should look at running a summer beginner program through Community Educ, like Roseville, Mounds View, Maplewood, and West St. Paul do.
  • A moratorium on the closing of any more vocal or instrumental music programs.

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