School district now has two elementary band options
June 11, 2008 · Updated 10:53 AM
"While the form of elementary band is still up in the air, the Central Kitsap School Board has decided to keep the program inside school hours.At the board's March 22 meeting, Elementary Education Director Allen Hughes presented the board with options for elementary band scheduling - both inside and outside the student day.Currently, band students are pulled out of general education classes for 30 minutes each day.The first option Hughes offered the board was holding the classes outside normal school hours. School districts such as Sumner and Northshore use that option. Band classes can range from 45 minutes, two days per week, to 30 minutes, five days per week.But after hearing the details of those plans, the school board decided to reject them.The district tried a similar model in a pilot program held at Esquire Hills Elementary in 1985. The number of children participating in band went from 35 at the beginning of the year to nine at the end.Board members pointed out that such a program would also cause transportation and scheduling problems. After considering those and other issues, the school board voted unanimously to reject options under which band would be eliminated or held outside of normal class hours. Making the motion to reject those two options was Robert VanDenburgh, one of the members who originally called for the review of elementary band policy.That left the following options:* Band classes could be held during the regular school day, with classes ranging from 45 minutes per day, four days per week, to 30 minutes per day, five days per week. School districts in Kent and Puyallup use those models, according to Hughes.This option would allow students to continue participation in the music program without creating transportation or scheduling problems. But the in-school choice would still pull students out of classes used to prepare them for the Washington Assessment of Student Learning exams, which contributed to the examination of the elementary band program in early February.The pull-out time also would allow teachers to spend intense time with students who have scored low on the WASL test and opt not to take part in band.* Another option is what Hughes called the Cottonwood choice model, currently in use at Cottonwood Elementary School, which allows sixth-grade students to choose between a general music program or band.With this model, students receive 75 minutes per week in music education, rather than the 150 minutes at other schools throughout the district. The 75 minutes saved is cycled through a rotating schedule of physical education and additional class time.This plan causes problems of its own - extra classroom space would be required, and that space would not be available at Clear Creek, Emerald Heights and Silver Ridge elementary schools.That would take those schools out of the possibility of taking this plan, Hughes said.Fifth- and sixth-grade combination classes do not work well under the Cottonwood model, Hughes said, because only sixth graders take part in the choice option.There's a hint that this is not very feasible, said board member John Farbarik, who led the meeting in the absence of board President Carl Johnson. Hughes responded that it would require creative scheduling on the part of principals.The Cottonwood model is popular with teachers at the school. Cottonwood Principal Jane Chapin said the choice option was implemented four years ago, and teachers choose to continue it every year despite the difficulties involved in the scheduling and planning.Although Cottonwood is currently the only school using that model, Farbarik said he wanted the board's decision to be a mandated policy for every school.I think it's a district-wide discussion and a district-wide decision, he said. But Stokke cautioned Farbarik against taking on too much of a mandatory stance on the issue.I don't think we can dictate that each school is going to have a ... Cottonwood model, he said.The next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. April 12 at the Jenne-Wright Administration building gymnasium, will allow time for the public to provide input on the issue."