The Lansing Board of Education is considering an increase in funding for beginning music programs at Otto Middle School, which serves Old Town, and other elementary and middle schools.
There currently are no band, string or orchestra programs at the elementary level in Lansing Public Schools, explained Deputy Superintendent James Davis. Every elementary building has put in a request to re-instate the programs, he said.
“We had orchestra and band in elementary until this year,” said Davis. “It was cut as part of our budget cuts at the end of the semester.”
Davis explained that in the current system, there is a general music teacher for each elementary school. This teacher has a 45 minutes class in each grade level that meets twice a week. The band, string and orchestra programs are pull-out programs (program that ‘pulls-out’ students from their regularly-scheduled academic class) that operate independently from this general music course.
Davis stressed that some middle school bands were still in great shape, namely Pattengill Middle School which has received high rankings in solo and ensemble festivals for the last few years.
“We used to have an amazing music program, and Pattengill and Everett still have amazing music programs,” said Myra Ford, secretary of the Lansing Board of Education. “When I look at Pattengill, which is our smallest middle school, and I see what they are offering, and then I look at Gardner and I look at Otto, I’m really disheartened at the fact that we have what we have there.”
Otto Middle School serves much of the North Lansing Area, including the Old Town Community.
Board Member Nicole Armbruster also raised the issue that there are intermediate and advanced band programs at the middle school level while there are no beginning opportunities, which alienates the students who were unable to learn music in elementary school.
Band and orchestra are not the only music classes the district lacks according to board member Dr. Nino Rodriguez who urged the school board to add more choir opportunities at the secondary level.
“I don’t think it’s going to be this huge amount of dollars necessary to build a foundation, but it’s the maintenance of [the program] that without the foundation [the program] falls apart,” Davis said.
The board did not have specific statistics for the number of music students enrolled in band last semester and Dr. Rodriguez said that they would need that information before any final decisions are to be made.