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Quakertown at odds over music program direction

Quakertown at odds over music program direction

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Quakertown at odds over music program direction69 News

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - Quakertown Community School Board members sparred over the direction of the music program Thursday night as the board hired a new music teacher.

The board was presented with a proposal to hire Megan Edinger, an elementary music teacher who will also head the district’s new instrumental strings program. The notion that the district would be getting a string music instruction program was news to board members, who were unaware of the change in music instruction.

The move also caught many of the district’s 11 current music teachers off guard. Teachers had pleaded with the district not to eliminate a 12th music teacher as the board prepared their most recent budget toward the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

Erik Szabo, the president of the Quakertown Community Promoters Association, questioned why the district would hire a strings music teacher when band instructors are overextended and unable to serve students as well as they would like. Szabo also said that the district hired Edinger without an audition and appeared to ignore the opinions of music teachers who alerted them of how a new strings program could negatively impact the current band program.

“All of our music teachers, every single one of them, has advised against it because of the logistics of scheduling and sharing rehearsals rooms and figuring out budgets,” he said. “We fought to save that 12th music t eacher position, and although we have 12 now, we still are down to 11 doing the same work of the original 17.”

Szabo said he and other music teachers are worried that there is no clear plan in place for the future of the strings program.

“I’m also concerned that this program really doesn’t seem to have a plan. I haven’t talked to any music teacher that was involved in, or even aware of, any kind of plan for success for a string program,” Szabo said.

Szabo said a lack of communication with music teachers in the district has left some feeling “disrespected” by administrators.

Assistant Superintendent Nancianne Edwards said it was “not accurate” that administration did not listen to input from music teachers. She said the district hopes to start building the program at the elementary levels and expand it to other grade levels as it gains in popularity.

She countered the idea that there was no plan for the program and said that administr ators did make an effort to listen to music educators.

“We did actually meet with the music department this summer,” she said. “It is not accurate that we did not seek their input or sit down with them and listen to what their thoughts were and what their recommendations would be for the use of the new position. We don’t agree with them, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t listen to their input and take it seriously.”

Some school board members wished they would have received more information on the addition of a strings program prior to voting on a new faculty member for a new program.

“I don’t know that anyone knew there would be a new program started,” said board director Keith Micucci.

Board member Kaylyn Mitchell voiced her displeasure with the administration’s decision not to listen to members of the music department, saying the program seemed “doomed to fail” without the support of other music teachers.

The board ultimat ely voted to hire Edinger 8-1, with her ability to teach general music and band instruction being two important factors that the board repeatedly referenced in their discussions.

Board members Ronald Jackson and Jonathan Kern cautioned the board to be careful with how deeply they engage in detail-oriented discussions, noting that administration has the ability to hire faculty as they see fit once a position is approved by the board.

“What I’m worried about is the board getting into the minutia of the administration,” Kern said.

Jackson agreed, adding that the board needs to discuss how hands-on they want to be when it comes to directing district administrator.

“This level of input from the board seems a little far reaching for what we are tasked to do for directing them to use a staff member,” he said.

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  • Wind: ENE 8 mph
  • Wind Chill: 21°
  • Humidity: 93%
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