Hopes and Worries for 2010-2011

Mike Lawson • Archives • September 23, 2010

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The arrival of the 2010-2011 school year is accompanied by renewed enthusiasm, vigor, and dedication, as well as lingering concerns over how to cope with ongoing financial shortfalls. As schools and counties across the country continue to scramble for funding, the good news for many teachers is that the time of uncertainty over cuts and reductions has passed, what’s done is done, and plans for how to best utilize time and resources to create another exciting year of instruction are well underway.

This recent SBO reader survey takes a closer look at how this school year compares to years passed, while gauging specific areas of excitement and concern for music educators nationwide.

Relative to last year, my student population this year will be:

Larger: 21%
Smaller: 24%
About the same: 55%

“We went from 88 to 115 in the marching band program this year thanks to a good middle school feeder situation.”
Rich Stichler, Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe High School, Ft. Oglethorpe, Ga.

“Our feeder programs are helping us grow our numbers slightly. I’d love to see more retention, but we are moving in the right direction.”
George Dragoo, Stevens High School, Rapid City, S.D.

“We have declining enrollment overall for years to come. My one feeder program is not doing well at retaining students, in addition to the general population decline. This is worrisome.”
David Ahrens, Bear River High School, Grass Valley, Calif.

This year, I will have:

More help: 9%
Less help than last year: 26%
The same amount of additional staffing in the classroom: 65%

“With the budget cuts we went through this past year, while they didn’t cut any of the music positions, they cut other •exploratory’ positions at the school so we now have fewer teachers for the same amount of students. This is going to affect some of my band classes because instead of seeing them in two classes per grade level, they are cutting it back to one class per grade so that I can also teacher general music classes.”
Chris Nunes, Westport Middle School, Westport, Mass.

My budget this year will be:

Larger: 4%
Smaller: 42%
Same: 54%

What are your most pressing concerns about the new school year?

“The economic status with many families in our community is very unsettling. My concern is that the families of beginning students will be able to afford an instrument for sixth-grade band.”
Randy Young, Coosa High School, Rome, Ga.

“Making sure that we are able to run the same music classes with our current budget crisis. As of now, the school has cut back elementary music. Students used to receive general music once a week for a half hour. Now it is down to once a week for only half the year.”
Ted Rausch, Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth, R.I.

“We survived attempted cuts last year. We need to keep the program strong and visible this year in order to avoid cuts for 2011-2012.”
Rodney Mueller, Centennial High School, Champaign, Ill.

“Less time for elementary band students due to a reduced staff. And not enough money from the school corporation or Band Boosters to keep up with the instrumentation or technology needs.”
Kevin Christenson, Heritage Junior/Senior High School, Monroeville, Ind.

“I am most concerned about the constant adding of programs (advisory, collaboration, et cetera) that take time away from actually teaching curriculum to our students.”
Patrick J. Kearney, Johnston High School, Johnston, Iowa

What are you most excited about for this coming year?

“Our county has a voice in the county office for the first time in thirty years. I am curious to see what this will do for the arts in my county. I have a great group of beginners coming in this year to watch their progress each year is lots of fun.”
Jason Carter, North Davie Middle School, Mocksville, N.C.

“Starting an after school jazz ensemble and knowing that this style of music will make more proficient concert band players. It will help students become more confident in their playing and will increase their reading and listening skills.”
Patrick Ross, Perry Elementary School, Erie, Pa.

“Challenging every level of string player beginning in fourth grade all the way through middle school and into high school with quality string literature and teaching and reinforcing the basics from quality LH position to RH bow hold. Teaching vibrato every year to more string players is always enjoyable. Finally, in the spring I look forward to going to music contests and seeing how the students respond to the experience!”
Joel K. Jank, Hastings Middle School, Hastings, Neb.

“The students this year are especially enthusiastic about the program, and they have me fired up to do great things.”
Jay Kahn, Maquoketa Middle School, Maquoketa, Iowa

Additional thoughts on the new school year?

“It’s important to keep things consistent from year to year, even though we have huge financial issues facing the schools in California. Many programs have terrific parent support and we will be leaning on them more this year than in years past. We must strive to keep a positive attitude in the classroom and around the campus and community. That positive attitude will transfer to the wonderful kids and community during these tough times. How we handle this situation will define us as music educators and as human beings.”
Norman Dea, Acalanes High School, Lafayette, Calif.

“My goal is to make every effort to be a fantastic advocate for my music program and the programs in the district. I hope to do a better job with my repair and music funds. I hope to finally get my music library organized and also look forward to teaching valuable lessons to my students about character, as well.”
Dave J. Moss, Fremont Academy, Pomona, Calif.

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