Two community members addressed the Skaneateles school board on Dec. 17 to express concerns about making students chose between music and science classes in the middle school.
The change, which the board heard a presentation on at its Dec. 2 meeting, would give eight grade students the opportunity to take Regents Earth Science, which is currently only offered in ninth grade. However, due to tight scheduling, some students would have to either give up a study hall or a second music class in order to take the class, because it requires an every-other-day lab period which must be contiguous with the regular class.
The presentation was made without anyone in the music department being talked to about the proposed change, said Amy Sander, vice president of the music boosters club.
“We are concerned that [the accelerated science option] introduction as proposed, especially in the wake of other recent cuts, will be at the expense of the existing music program. Our desire is that in your consideration of this proposal, the board of education and the administration involve the music department and other stakeholders in the analysis of the proposal’s costs versus benefits for all students and programs short and long-term,” Sander said.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel addressed the concerns during the superintendent’s report. Pastel acknowledged that it was an oversight to not discuss the proposed changes with the music department, however she stressed the importance of offering an accelerated science sequence, something that the majority of districts in the state already do.
The district can possibly use its activity period or after-school time to offer music opportunities to students, something it already does in addition to the in-school music classes, Pastel said.
“We’re investigating how we can creatively support the students and the staff,” she said. “We’re trying to support all of our students, and those who don’t take music, who want to have the opportunity to get five science courses.”