D-428 proposal would cut up to 5 middle school music teachers

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – Some middle school music teachers could lose their jobs depending on how the DeKalb School District 428 Board implements the 2014-15 schedule.

School board members will hear a proposal at their July 16 meeting to change the schedule at the middle school so that students would receive more time in math, said Douglas Moeller, assistant superintendent for curriculum and student services.

“I know there are people in the community who are saying we’re going to fire all of the music teachers. That’s not the case,” Moeller said, adding that orchestra, band and choir still will be offered at both schools. “The board is going to determine if they want to continue the music ensembles or not.”

The school board has to sign off on any changes made to the middle school schedule, as well as the hiring or firing of teachers. Moeller said that any implementation of the schedule would not occur until the 2014-15 school year.

Students at Huntley and Clinton Rosette middle schools spend 43 minutes a day in math class, Moeller said. But according to one district committee that studies career and college readiness, students need to spend 60 minutes a day studying mathematics.

The schedule change would increase the number of minutes students spend in a math class to 86 minutes a day, similar to what they do now in language arts, Moeller said.

“This will allow them the time to cover the material not only on a superficial level, but to get down to more depth,” Moeller said.

To make up those additional 33 minutes, school officials would be combining the exploratory periods and elective periods into one class. During this one period, students get additional assistance in reading and math, or take classes in computers or music.

Currently, students have one exploratory period out of the week, and take nine weeks of computers, art, general music and health. The new elective period would extend these classes into semesters, and move health into gym time, similar to what the high school does, Moeller said.

Roger Scott, the principal of Huntley Middle School, noted that many other school districts have cut these electives all together.

“We’re trying to blend all of those pieces in with these proposals,” Scott said.

The proposal would eliminate general music, and depending on how the board rules, one band and one orchestra teacher. Each middle school has three music teachers. If the board opted for further savings, an orchestra and band teacher could be shared between the two schools.

“Yes, there would be teachers reassigned to different positions,” Scott said. “It’s important to get these [proposals] on the books and decided which direction we’re going to go, so we can work with the teachers with what’s going to be best for them.”

School officials said the proposal could eliminate three full-time positions, while sharing the orchestra and band teachers would eliminate five.

Andrea Gorla, the assistant superintendent for business and finance, said the district saves an average of $66,000 for each full-time position eliminated.

However, Moeller said this does not equate into cutting actual teachers. All of the full-time position savings are coming from piecemeal cuts, and does not take into account factors like enrollment and tenure.

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