Steamboat school officials address rumors of music cuts | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat school officials address rumors of music cuts

Teresa Ristow

Steamboat Springs High School freshman saxophone player Julian Bowman prepares for a concert last month. Despite recent rumors about cuts to the district's music program, district officials said no programs are being eliminated.

— A recent community dialogue about the elimination of music programs within the Steamboat Springs School District was fueled by rumors and misunderstandings, according to district administrators.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said no outright cuts are taking place at the elementary or high school levels, and a proposed reduction of band and performing arts from eight sections to six sections at the middle school is tied to overstaffing and is not a budget cut.

Meeks said the middle school music program is currently overstaffed, and the reduction of two sections would not take away the opportunity for any interested students to take band or performing arts classes.

"It's been a lot of unfortunate rumors," Meeks said. "The students are not going to be denied any opportunities."

At the elementary level, Meeks said administrators and teachers planned to meet later this week to discuss the feasibility of moving the fifth-grade band program to after or before school. He said this conceptual discussion would be based on the best use of student time, and, again, was not related to a budget cut.

Meeks said about 30 fifth-grade students per school take band, while other students use the time as a study hall.

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There hasn't been any discussion about reducing the amount of time fifth-grade students would receive music instruction, according to the elementary principals.

Facebook posts from the Steamboat Springs Arts Council last week asked the community to speak out during last week's Community Committee for Education forums so that music programming wouldn't be lost in the school system.

A representative from the Arts Council said Friday they had heard that high school band director Jim Knapp was being fired and the school's choir director was leaving, and that neither would be replaced.

Meeks said that "no one has been fired, and the choir director position will be replaced."

Knapp confirmed Monday that he was not being fired.

Meeks said the high school and middle school are working together to restructure staffing with the goal of having a teacher in each building without travel time between buildings.

According to the district's website, Knapp currently teaches at the high school, middle school and Strawberry Park Elementary.

"At this time of year, staffing and scheduling are fluid, but the bottom line is that music programs are not being eliminated," Meeks said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow