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Challand schedule revised to accommodate music program

STERLING – They asked, and they received.

Parents of music students at Challand Middle School for months begged and pleaded with the Sterling Public Schools to spare the music program, which includes band, orchestra and choir, from drastic changes.

Administrators in the last month worked to find a solution.

In March, Sterling Public Schools cut 12 teachers, the majority of them at the middle school, as part of more than $1 million in budget reductions. Next year, Challand Middle School, as a result, will have a new schedule, with one fewer class period.

Parents and other stakeholders were worried that band, orchestra and choir rehearsals would move to before or after school; that the ensembles would meet only 2 days a wee rather than 5; and that individual lessons for seventh- and eighth-graders would be scaled back.

Superintendent Tad Everett allayed their fears Monday night.

Next year, seventh- and eighth-grade ensembles will meet during the school day; sixth-graders will have individual lessons; and seventh- and eighth-graders will have lessons throughout the school day.

Also next year, fifth-grade ensembles will remain intact, but sixth-grade ensembles will have to meet before school.

Some parents were concerned that music students would have to choose between music and other electives, such as art or computers.

Everett said the new schedule still forces students to choose between electives.

"We're happy with where we are," he said.

Challand Principal Kathy Howard agreed.

"We tried to meet the needs of as many students as we can in as many ways as we can given the hand we were dealt," she said.

Some staff and students got the short end of the stick with a revised schedule, though.

Teachers no longer will have common planning time within their departments. And students in the AVID college-readiness program (also considered an elective) will have less ensemble and individual lesson time.

Some of the most vocal parents, who last month pleaded with the school board and administrators to return to the drawing board before they irreparably ruined the music program, thanked the staff Monday night – even before they had heard about or seen the revised schedule.

"Thank you all so much for listening to us ... and taking another look and reconsidering," Amy Boze said. "You didn't have to do that ... And from what I heard, it's better than what we hoped for."

District and middle school staff next will send a letter to all parents and others who voiced concerns explaining the changes. They also will share the changes with the staff.

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