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Band, Choir On The Move; D159 Board Tacks Fee onto Music Programs

Both the band and choir programs in District 159 were moved to schedule B and both come with an $80 fee, as the D159 Board of Education looks to find solutions for scheduling, teacher difficulties.

Strike up the band—and the cash register—as the voted Wednesday night to move band and choir from the curriculum to schedule B activities, charging approximately $80 per student for each.

The fees will be in effect for the 2012–2013 school year.

The move will allow the district to move forward with class schedules for the coming year, a process usually already underway by this point.

“We still need to look at how the schedules play out, that's a big issue on why we need to make a decision tonight on this issue,” said Superintendent Steve Stein, adding, “We can't wait any longer to start putting those schedules together. We're kind of behind the 8-ball now in terms of putting schedules together.”

The move to schedule B means that band and choir will both no longer be graded and that the workload on the two teachers for the programs should be lightened.

During a more than four-hour meeting, the board voted 7-0 in favor of moving both activities to schedule B, also tacking on the $80 fee. The move does not, however, include a third teacher for the programs, nor does it include a teacher's aide for either program.

Principal Mike Rolinitis presented four options to the board for the two programs:

  • Keep things as is. 
  • Move band to school day, move choir to extracurricular. 
  • Move both. 
  • Use a $5,000 grant from the booster club to hire a parttime aide.

The move will keep the fifth-grade band, symphonic band and concert bands, along with choir activities.

Mokena Music Boosters Vice President Dina Fugett said before the vote that there were concerns amongst members about what could happen to the band.

“It's not a matter of the grading, or what kind of time that takes from their workload,” she said. “It's what we can afford, it's what can be the best viable solution.”

The boosters previously offered the board a $5,000 grant to be applied to a part-time teaching position to help offset the workload of the two teachers. The board did not vote for or against the grant because of the new fees enacted on the two activities, said board president John Troy.

Parents in attendance at the meeting voiced a strong concern over the possibility of the move forcing difficult choices for parents and students between band or choir and sports. Several parents said that forcing such a choice was “unfair,” to both students and parents.

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Chris May 17, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Way to close the gate after all the animals have left the barn. The school over-burdened Mrs. Maffia causing her to throw in the towel, and now you make it better. What makes me scratch my head is that schools have had viable and successful music programs for decades, and all of a sudden we can no longer promote music and the arts in our schools. Pathetic.
Truth May 17, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I am in total agreement. The members of this board, with only two exceptions, makes me sick. The kids lose again.
Kirsten May 17, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I also agree that the school board has once again let the kids down.
lynn gaby May 17, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Well I can tell you that the kids may lose the program in school but the School of Rock in Mokena has provided a fantastic outlet for lessons and rock band performance for my son, so he is not losing- he is winning!
R.W.Voter May 17, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I for one, am in total agreement with the Board. Band and Choir are extra activities in this school as they are in every other school. What some people fail to realize is the fact that we can't afford to give anything extra any more. Someone is forced to pay for it. Moving music to a study was clearly a political decision executed by Ms. Perry. Now she is gone (thank God) and she should have taken her programs with her. Good work Board.
Kirsten May 17, 2012 at 08:21 PM
It is not an issue of fees that makes me disagree with the board on this. It is that they are not willing to take the offer of help to pay for a much needed aide or PT teacher.
R.W.Voter May 17, 2012 at 08:48 PM
What I feel is at issue is what is band and choir, they are extra activities as are sports like basketball and track. Not all of the children want to participate. Those who want to can and those who don't want to can do something else. I feel the responsible thing to do was done. Maybe the funding could help students who can't afford the fee. Thank you.
kimberly perch May 18, 2012 at 03:32 AM
I agree with the board. Band and choir are, and should be treated, as extracurricular activities and it is about time that these programs stop getting special treatment. Why should playing an instrument or singing a song be considered worthy of a grade and considered a class? I, for one, applaud the boards decision. I do think the fee should be higher and more in line with what kids who are interested in sports or other extracurriculars need to pay. $80 seems too low.
Gina Zoetvelt May 18, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Band and choir were ALWAYS EC's. The reason it was made part of the curriculum was in an attempt for it not to be eliminated as the other ECs were. It worked. By making it an EC, it's no different than it was before. Parents will still have the same issue with band vs sports. From my time at SD159, band has always been prior to school start and Jazz band was once a week after school. I'm not sure about choir. But in any event, weren't these same issues there BEFORE band and choir was made part of the curriculum? Parents who are concerned need to get a grip and realize, this is no different than any other schools' programs. As far as Mrs. Maffia, she will be greatly missed but you can't blame this on the board. Part of the overload is also due to Mrs. Thomas's illness. Mrs. Maffia really had to go above and beyond when Mrs. Thomas became ill. If you are going to blame the board, then there are two that you need to blame, Moore and Peters. They are the only two remaining from the prior board when all this mess came about. The only thing I see with the other 5 is constant movement forward. For every step the board wants to move forward, Peters and Moore vote against it. It's as if they will vote opposite of what the other members are voting, just so they can stand their ground or prove a point. I can only hope those two don't run again for re-election as I have seen little improvement by them. If they do, I hope we have two very promising opponents.

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