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Lansing School Board Questions Music Programs at Local Schools

By Kaelin Roberts
Old Town Staff Writer

The Lansing Board of Education held a regular meeting to discuss the music programs offered at local schools among other issues.

Deputy Superintendent Jim Davis reported on the district-wide music program at the local elementary, middle and high schools and said that the quality is not what he would like to see in certain schools.

Jack Davis, treasurer of the board, said the board had previously voted to cut the budget. However, he did not realize the impact that would have on some music programs. “I’d like them to reinstate the programs,” Davis said.

“We need to revisit band and strings of the elementary program,” said Myra Ford, the secretary for the board.

Nicole Armbruster, a member of the board, asked about the program. “At Pattengill [elementary], we have immediate and advanced band, but there’s no beginning and then we have no band in elementary, so how are [the students] supposed to go to intermediate band with no beginning?” she said.

Deputy Superintendent Davis said they continued to have orchestra and band at the elementary level up until this year.  There still is a music teacher that teaches general music, like choir, at each of these schools, but not a separate program for band and orchestra, he said.

“Even though they don’t have those programs, the schools still have holiday performances,” he said.

Ford said she was the one who requested this report because she had recently gotten information on the secondary music programs at the local schools, and she is very disturbed by where they seem to be headed.

“In my previous [time] as a board member, we had a lot of support and push from our community to offer art and music in our district and the board responded. We used to have an amazing music program,” said Ford.  “Pattengill and Everett still have amazing music programs, but we had a district-wide program that was outstanding.  Districts around us used to envy our music program.  We used to do a performance in the spring at the Wharton Center and teachers from other districts would compliment the fact that our music program was so amazing.”

Ford says that when she compares Pattengill’s music program to the programs at Gardner and C. W. Otto, she is very disheartened. “Otto is where most of the Old Town residents send their kids,” said Brittney Hoszkiw, the executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association.

Deputy Superintendent Davis said out of all of the local high schools, Sexton High School has the smallest amount of music.  Over the last few years, enrollment at the school has been really low, he said.

“Let me sit down with each building to come up with a plan that won’t cost much,” said the deputy superintendent.  “The upkeep is hard, that’s what happened with Sexton, it fell apart.  If we build it, they will come.”

It is the quality of the program that will make it effective and sustainable, he said.

Shirley Rodgers, the president of the board, said she agrees with the ‘if you build it they will come’ theory, but only if you have the right people building it.

“Music is a very important aspect for students in terms of things like math,” said Armbruster.

Rodgers said Otto middle school used to feed into Sexton High School.

“Some people look at music as extras. I don’t,” said Deputy Superintendent Davis.

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