Mrs. Kneessy asked to bring this item up as a point of discussion. It came to her attention via Jane Cline, Central Area superintendent that there were two students at two different schools who wanted to enroll in a music class. The requirements are for them to be in marching band and there is no waiver or hardship waiver. Mrs. Kneessy commented that marching band is a huge financial and time commitment and does not work for everyone. She understands the reason for this requirement is that no one would sign up for marching band otherwise. However, she feels that there must be exceptions and is asking the Board to add some sort of waiver process so students can be a part of music and not have to give up one if they cannot be part of marching band.
Mrs. Henderson said that she does not believe that all schools require that.
Mrs. Van Meter said that their instructional level booklet does indicate that if you are in certain levels of band, then yes, you are required to participate in marching band. She said that when she knew this was going to be a topic of conversation, she contacted several schools and asked what their policies are. She said that everyone said students are afforded opportunities and their music program directors work with what is best for the child. For an example she said that one of the football players is in marching band and the school makes allowances for the child to participate in both activities. She said that you can watch marching band and see some football players participate in their football uniforms and perform in the half time programs. There are times if a compromise cannot be worked out, a student might have to make a choice. Mrs. Van Meter said that if you talk with the DOE, marching band is part of the band program. She said that is the music that they practice for. That is part of the requirement for the student's grade. However, she said that they work with the children.
Mrs. Kneessy said that jazz band is not marching band. She said that she doesn't understand why a student in jazz band is required to be part of marching band.
Mrs. Van Meter responded that the music and the training that they have is part of the regular band program also.
Mrs. Kneessy said that if a child signs up for a drama class, they do not have to be in the spring musical.
Mrs. Van Meter said that when you are in beginning drama, that is true, but once you get up to the upper levels of the drama program, you are required to participate in the performances.
Mr. Ziegler asked "What if the jazz band student plays a cello, what do they do for the marching band?"
Mrs.Van Meter stated that the strings do not have to be part of the marching bands.
Mr. Ziegler said he does take exception to requiring anything that has a cost. He feels this clearly crosses that line.
Mrs. Van Meter responded that there are more than enough opportunities for students to help earn funds to defray costs. There are students that do not have to pay, but they must participate in fundraising opportunities.
Mr. Ziegler asked if we have put anything in place to make marching band a PE option to which Mrs. Van Meter responded that is already an option.
Mrs.Belford asked if we have students that may have to be home to take care of siblings or have to work after school and weekends. It sounds to me that we would already exclude that child from upper level music classes.
Mrs. Van Meter said that all of those things are part of that class and in the course description. She said that she does not know of a high school program that will not work with children. However, if they cannot participate in an outside part of the program, then it will not be available to them because they have to participate in all of the parts.
Mrs. Henderson said that band directors have always worked with children to make this an accessible program. She commented that kids that want to be in band know what they are getting into when they sign up.
Mrs. Kneessy said that they had an area superintendent come to her saying that she had two schools that would not make concessions.
Mrs. Van Meter said she could not address those instances as she did not know who they were, but she could give many more examples where the schools do work with students. She said that it is a co-curricular offering and the students know that going in.
Mrs. Kneessy said that she feels that unless there is something in writing, then principals can do what they want and this bothers her.
Mrs. Henderson asked if we can we get some more information on this. She doesn't understand why the area superintendent cannot work with these schools.
Mrs. Belford said she feels there is a problem if an area superintendent is giving direction to a principal and the principal is not doing so. As a Board, she feels they need to give direction that, if at all possible, we need to give the students flexibility in certain situations where is is not feasible for them to participate. Beyond that, communication and expectations and what is in the best interest of the students are critical.
Mr. Craig commented that the fact that we are discussing this means there is a problem. Staff needs to understand that there is a problem. We need to figure a way for a solution and make sure that the student comes first.
Van Meter will speak with Ms. Cline and get more information when she returns.
Mrs. Kneessy wanted staff to make an effort to make sure the band fees are more balanced.
Mrs. Van Meter mentioned that schools develop budgets based on what opportunities they want to provide their students such as travel and competitions.
Mrs. Kneessy said that it was more for what they are spending for individual items.
Mr. Ziegler said that we give clear direction now for all schools to work with all students where needed.