CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Some Champaign parents aren’t happy with an elementary band program being dropped. District leaders say they’re streamlining for a better experience.
“They just didn’t ask for more input, and it just feels like they are taking things away from us constantly,” said Champaign parent Christy Arnold.
Last week band parents heard there was a possibility the district would be cutting the elementary band program. Their first chance to speak to the whole school board was Monday, but by then it was too late.
“I am a very staunch advocate for our band, strings, and fine arts program,” said Superintendent Dr. Sheila Boozer.
But a major change to her district’s program is being met with backlash. Champaign schools are taking away 5th-grade band and strings. Instead, the program will start in middle school.
“This is not a program reduction we’re better aligning our resources,” said Boozer.
Edison Band Patron President Kim Fisher heard about the possibility of this happening through her network and sent an email to get band parents to speak up at a board meeting.
“I got the email, and I sent it to Dr. Boozer,’ said Arnold.
Arnold went straight to the superintendent; she emailed Boozer asking if the information was true last week. Boozer responded that she would look into it. She didn’t hear anything else until the decision was announced at the meeting.
“They didn’t seek input from parents, and they didn’t send out a wide email to the elementary letting them know that this was something that was being considered,” said Arnold.
Fisher’s email to parents says scheduling logistics is to blame.
“Some of their musical directors have not only their own bands but three, four, five elementary schools to do band,” said Fisher.
And while she agrees teachers are strapped, she says taking away band from 5th graders isn’t the solution.
“The district’s response to that is not to add teachers, not to invest or expand the program,” said Fisher. “Their idea is, ‘let’s just keep the resources we have,’ but that means that 5th-grade band and orchestra is going to be eliminated.”
Boozer says she wants to do the program justice.
“Our teachers work their behinds off to make sure they provide great things for our students, and so to have them running around trying to piecemeal things together was not fair to them, and it’s not fair to our kids,” said Boozer.
The parents who spoke at tonight’s meeting say they understand the reasoning but are upset because they continuously feel like there isn’t clear communication between the district and parents.