Parents, school leaders dissect Falls music program

June 13, 2013

The music department at the Menomonee Falls School District was dissected in a workshop Wednesday that involved parents, teachers, administration and school board members.

The group of selected individuals sat at a table to discuss ways to maintain music programming as the School District was forced to cut $2.4 million from its 2013-14 budget and looks to cut another $2 million the following year as state aid fails to pace with inflation, said Superintendent Pat Greco.

Orchestra is on the list of things that may be cut for the 2014-15 school year and prompted the School Board's Curriculum and Learning Committee to call a music work session that gave an in-depth look at the department. The workshop was also a way for interested parties to generate ideas on how to maintain music programming despite fiscal constraints.

"We have a very difficult couple of years coming up financially," said Committee Chair David Noshay.

One idea the district will pursue is creative scheduling at the elementary and middle school, an idea brought forth by parent Barb Nienow. She said there are ways that cuts can be made by looking at scheduling and teaching all the music courses more efficiently.

Another option the School Board will explore is looking into different funding sources to support the music program. For example, parents may be willing to pay for lessons at the School District as opposed to private lessons. In order to pursue this as a viable option, the district first has to look at the legality of it, Director of Curriculum and Learning Gary Kiltz said after the meeting.

The workshop also addressed eliminating orchestra as part of School District curriculum, but adding it to the list of offerings from the Community Education and Recreation department. Ann Mueller, a parent with two children in the music program, said if orchestra is offered after school "it will fail" because most students are already in after-school activities. Though this is not a preferred option, she said should orchestra be offered as a recreation program, that it should at least be offered in the morning.

No votes were taken at the workshop, nor was public comment allowed. Only those asked to sit at a table to generate ideas could discuss the music department during the meeting. There will be additional meetings in the fall when community members have the opportunity to provide feedback.

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