Andrew Trzaska | June 21, 2012
The 2012-2013 Muskegon Public Schools budget will include many cuts to eliminate a multi-million dollar deficit. Of all the cuts, summer food service cuts plus band and orchestra cuts are getting the most vocal protests.
The Muskegon Public Schools Board of Education passed the budget in a unanimous vote Tuesday night.
Sixth grade band and orchestra appear to be on the chopping block, which would leave the programs as 7-12 grade. Orchestra programs used to start as young as 4th grade.
In a letter from former Muskegon band director Kent Krive, read in his absence by a fellow band supporter, the quality of Muskegon’s program was cited as a reason to keep the programs going:
“Muskegon was known as the greatest program in the state, with Pontiac second, and we know what happened to Pontiac… Muskegon stands as a crossroads as I see it.”
Several students, parents and staff in the crowd repeatedly emphasized that the earlier a student is started into music, the better players they generally become.
Contract negotiations between the teachers union regarding instrumental music program staffing are still in process. Multiple members of the crowd urged Felske and the union to speed up negotiations, because band season generally gets underway in July and is in full swing by August.
Multiple audience members also commented on the cuts to summer food service that came with the closing of school buildings, primarily McLaughlin School. Summer programs rely on this service for students who qualify.
Superintendent Felske stated he could not offer transportation to the next closest building to McLaughlin, which is the high school. However, when a commenter suggested a local church or other organization provide transportation to the building, Felske appeared supportive:
“If you get the students to the building, we will turn no one away.”
Next year’s budget will also not include costs for operating Craig School, as the board voted on a separate agenda item to close the building starting with the 2012-2013 school year and relocate its students to the MCEC building, formerly Angell School.