Parents, Students Ask School Board To Rejuvenate Orchestra Program

Dave Kraus told the school board that the district’s orchestra program has helped his two sons.

A group of parents and students seemed to have made an impression on the Board of Education Dec. 22 when they asked members to rejuvenate an ailing district orchestral band program.

The program has not recovered from budget cuts it suffered in 2010 and, most recently, from schedule changes at Franklin Middle School, according to parents and school officials.

But board members and district officials say they are committed to the program and will do what they can to help restore it. Fixes at the middle school have been developed and will be described to parents after the winter break, school officials said.

Dave Kraus was one of a handful of parents who showed up at the meeting and told of a program that helped their children in a variety of ways.

“I have two sons who participated in orchestra,” he told the board. “My sons have gained confidence and the ability to play in front of people. It’s given them the ability to show that through hard work and practice they can achieve anything they want.”

“I hope the board will find a way to get the money to get the teachers and fund the program,” he said.

Several other parents and some students also told the board that playing in the orchestra has had a beneficial impact on them, and that a parents’ group has been formed to lobby the board to bolster the program.

The school board is committed to the program, board president Ed Potosnak told the group.

Potosnak said he’d like schools Superintendent John Ravally to meet with the parents’ group.

The middle school issue, he said, has been cleared up.

“They have a fix that a lot of folks have been working on for the second semester, so that’s in the works,” he said.

“I very much believe in the arts, and research shows that students who are involved in music perform better,” Potosnak said. “There’s no lack of support here, it’s just a matter of finding a way to move forward appropriately.”

Ravally said the new schedule at the middle school increased academic time, but cut the time for electives such as orchestra from five days a week to two days.

“That’s problematic because it’s tough when you’re in orchestra to play your instrument on Monday and then not come back until maybe Wednesday,” he said.

Middle School principal Reginald Davenport will meet with affected parents and students, Ravally said, to discuss a “workaround” that was devised.

“Not every kid is going to have that opportunity because some kids have to have academic intervention,” he said. “But a majority of the kids should fall into getting that opportunity back.”


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