Proposed changes to Granite music programs creates crescendo of concern

Published: Friday, Oct. 26 2012 10:09 p.m. MDT

"We, as a board of education and as a district, value instrumental education," she said. "But it is not part of the core mission of our district or of any district in the state of Utah."

But the changes are not without consequences. Before- or after-school programs place a burden on parents to transport their children to or from school, and the proposed format would effectively eliminate the positions of 14 district music specialists.

Mariotti said the district was aware of how the changes would impact music teachers, and the October meeting was called to let employees know early on that such conversations were taking place.

Soon after the meeting was held, rumors began swirling around the district that elementary music was being eliminated, prompting district officials to post an explanation on Granite's Facebook page.

The Deseret News also received anonymous emails claiming to be from district music specialists, who said they had been told they would lose their jobs at the end of the year.

Mariotti said that because an after-school band class would not require a full-time position, music specialists could potentially find themselves in non-music assignments in the future. But she said no employee would be without work because of the changes, and the district was committed to working individually with specialists to find their best fit.

"We fully intend to help them all transfer to a job they're qualified for," Mariotti said. "I understand the impact it has on 14 people and the change it will have on their daily work, but in a district of 4,000 people, we're trying to do the best for everyone."

Loretta Walker, a Granite District music specialist, said she was present at the Oct. 12 meeting. She said there were a lot of surprised faces when the proposed changes were announced, but she felt the district was making a good faith effort to preserve instrumental instruction in some form and find new positions for displaced educators.

"They are really trying to make it so no one loses their job," Walker said. "They're trying not to put people on the street."

The district faced a similar scenario in May, after a decision to allow greater local control over instrumental music programs drew concerns that elementary music was being eliminated. In that situation, an online petition to save band and orchestra was started by an anonymous poster that eventually gathered more than 500 signatures.

"There are a lot of school districts that don't offer instrumental music programs at all," Horsley said. "Obviously, inherent with any change, there are going to be concerns, and we recognize that."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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