Meeting discusses Granite schools’ music program

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SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah - Some parents are hoping the Granite School District will not make elementary band or orchestra classes an after-school program. 

“These changes you’re proposing will be of great disservice to students,” says parent Trudi Rouse.

Rouses’ 11-year-old daughter plays violin and is among 3,400 elementary students who take instrumental music classes. Fifth and 6th graders are taught twice a week by music specialists and Rouse believes if those classes become an after-school program, the students will be short-changed. 

Granite administrators say the problem is that students are being pulled out of core subjects for 90 minutes of band instruction per week.

“They’re missing science, social studies or reading,” said Linda Mariotti, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services with the Granite School District.

Granite Spokesperson Ben Horsley added, “We’re glossing over a number of subjects in the classroom and you pull kids out of instruction for up to 90 minutes a week that has an impact on performance.”

Mariotti presented a report to the Granite School Board Tuesday night. One idea is to teach band at some schools and orchestra at others to increase participation.

Trudi Rouse thinks it’s a bad idea.

“Parents that want their children to participate will not only be forced to take their kids to school early or pick up them up late, but will be also forced to take them to a different school,” she says. “For many families, that’s impossible.”

Fourteen music specialists also fear they could eventually lose their jobs if the board approves the change. District officials insist they are committed to finding qualified positions for those instructors so they are not laid off.

None of those instructors in question spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting and administrators say a recent survey of 4,000 Granite parents shows many moms and dads in the are open to adjusting music education.

“We did ask parents, if we had a before or after school program, would you be inclined to participate. Of the survey sample we received back, nearly 70 percent of the respondents said ‘Yes, I’d be inclined to participate.’” said Mariotti. 

The school board did not vote on the proposed changes at Tuesday night’s meeting. That may not happen until next year. 

If the changes go into effect, they would not impact the current school year but would take effect in the fall of 2013.