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UD Music Parents Advocate to Save Music, Arts

Reductions in the music and arts programs are proposed for the 2013-14 school year.

On Monday, the Upper Dublin High School Marching Band Parent's Association held an open meeting to discuss the proposed cuts in the 2013-14 school year budget.

Deb Carver, the Public Relations Secretary for the March Band Parents Association, say that the parents who gathered on Monday were there to "advocate for something that is near and dear to our hearts."

Chris Dowdell, President of the Parent's Association, said, "The budget process is already underway, time is not on our side."

He continued, "The stakes of tonight's meeting are high."

The proposed budget, according to Superintendent of Schools Michael Pladus, as a $2.7 million dollar deficit and the school board can raise taxes to a maximum of 3.04 percent.

"[We] cannot continue the spending trajectory that we're on without [major cuts]," said Pladus.

Pladus continued that the past few years, cuts have been made across the district that have been considered those that least impacted the students. He said there has been downsizing in administration staffing, the district has reduced overtime payment, the late buses, eliminated a social worker, a kindergarten assistant, a District receptionist and one Robbins Park assistant.

However, this years cuts will affect the students, although Pladus said the administration tried to cut from programs that have the least impact on students and made cuts with "fairness and equity to the extent possible."

The proposed budget eliminates a math coach and increases class sizes at the elementary level. During the question and answer session, Pladus told parents that reductions will also be made in elementary music, arts, physical education and library.

At the middle school, the budget eliminates two writing lab assistants, teacher reductions to .8 in music and arts and "other special areas," according to previous reporting in Patch.

At the high school, the budget, calls for the elimination of driver's ed, reductions in teaching assignments in art, music, business technology and family and consumer sciences and the increase in class sizes.

See the full list of proposed reductions here.

Pladus added that an activities fee is being considered and will most likely be implemented for the 213-14 school year.

Phillip Green January 30, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Please, if parents want the band, let them pay for it themselves with a program outside of the school. It's an extra we don't need. But, more than that, we can't afford. Our taxes are skyrocketing out of sight and we need to cut this $2.7 million, not keep throwing it on the backs of the school district residents!
qdogPa January 30, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Just to be the Devil's advocate,Phil, why not have all athletic programs pay for their program? It would amount to a significant savings over doing what you propose..And in all seriousness,ALL programs need to pitch in, not one or the other
Ruth January 30, 2013 at 04:12 AM
Well said, qdog. The arts are always the first to go, in schools, and in this country. Which would you rather go without, the Phillies, or the Philadelphia Orchestra? I know the answer....
Kevin W. Kelly January 30, 2013 at 01:30 PM
As an investor in the UD community, I would say now is the best time to sell and move. UD real estate demand has been high for decades due to the high quality of the of the UD schools. Could easily show you over a 100 studies that directly link music education and academic achievement. Short sighted, small minded, choices that will wipe out the property value in UD. Once colleges hear that the music programs are being cut, the damage is done. Think of the swarms of people that moved to UD, only because a UD education equaled college acceptance, not only acceptance but better colleges because of UD education reputation. Those days are gone with the music programs. Check your house value now and 2 years from now when these foolish actions become known through out all the colleges. There is a very good reason college applications ask if you sing in the chorus or play in the band. Those students are more disciplined, work harder and have better success in college. Colleges need students that will graduate. The UD supply of those students are going away.
Janet Rosen January 30, 2013 at 03:23 PM
My kids are grown and living elsewhere but I totally agree with Kevin Kelly. Our home values are linked to the excellence of our schools. We can't degrade our programs. All we can do is increase the class size a bit, ask parents to contribute a bit more and have community fundraisers for some programs.
udresident January 30, 2013 at 07:25 PM
The problem with loading up class sizes is that teachers need small classes to differentiate instruction. Years ago, kids were grouped by ability, and teachers could target lessons to that level. Now, you have kids of all abilities, including those with special needs--autism, dyslexia, gifted--all lumped in one class. There is no way for a teacher to meet all those different needs in a class with 30 kids... And if you think cuts in the music program will hurt our property values...just wait until those PSSA scores start to drop. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.
Bill January 30, 2013 at 09:17 PM
If I heard Dr. Pladus correctly teachers salaries range from a base salary of 47k - 104k which will only continue to rise each year. Each teacher also receives another 15k in benefits this year, 17k next year, and 20k the following year. He refused to comment any further when asked if the teachers would make any concessions other than to say they have been approached and have refused that option. Another point was that only 25% of the paying residents have kids in school. Oh and property values... a house went from 425k to 340k in five years regardless of the school district. It's been on and off the market for 2 years because they can't sell it, and this is while interest rates are at historically low levels. My point is that by next year the same issues and arguments will be had and deeper cuts will be necessary.
MusicianParent January 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM
I agree with the effect on housing values and the ability to sell a home. The fact that the School Board has publicly stated that the Arts are negotiable, whereas sports are never identified other than a cryptic "$100,000 reduction in activities" sends a clear message that the Upper Dublin community values high academics and high sports, but the Arts can be sacrificed. This is not an Arts vs Sports argument; just an observation from having read and watched the power point presentation. I've already started considering when my family should move so my present third grade student can attend a high school with full-time music faculty, not 0.8 classroom teachers and limited extracurricular activities. I'd be amazed if UD does not see teachers flee the district this Spring. And who will they hire as replacements at a 0.8 position - someone wanting to get experience and then jumping to a 1.0 position. If the District proposes all these demotions in a year with a teacher's contract, what will they propose next year? I know and appreciate many of the arts the teachers, and I wish them well elsewhere.
MusicianParent January 31, 2013 at 01:02 AM
All this very public "fiscal cliff" talk is not helping anyone. The school district being at it's debt limit because of the high school construction does factor into the situation since borrowing to help lessen the burden until 2015-16 is not an option. Not that borrowing is good, but it's a non-option. UD may have needed to offer salary increases to gain parity with other districts, but where is that parity now? Clearly every teacher is important, but some are more important than others.
SMDH January 31, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Good lord Bill it is absolutely not true that teachers have refused the option. I know because I am one!! We will hav ethe opportunity to see a plan and vote on it later. It is outrageous that you would lie about that on this site. No plan has been refused.
Bill January 31, 2013 at 04:26 AM
@SMHD Excuse me, calling me a liar! Were you at the meeting? I said, “if I understood Dr. Pladus correctly”. Teacher? If this is how you respond to a post then what do you do to defenseless children in the classroom that you disagree with. Using tactics that look to silence others by attacking there credibility through name calling and accusations is immoral. You should resign your position!
Joe January 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM
The harsh reality is that there are 1000 applicants for every teaching position. No teachers will flee because they cannot get another position. I attended the meeting even thought I have no children in the schools anymore. There were adults in the room. Level headed, rational responses to the problems. I have been a critic of the board for years as to their fiscal responsibility, some of this is their doing, some is not, it is the state of the economy and the ability to bring in revenues from the tax base. There is a financial problem which will not get better soon. There will be cuts that many will not like, but an attitude of keep mine, take away their's will not work, and only cause divisiveness.
David Plasket January 31, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I would ask that every parent that has ever attended a sporting event t pleas go to one band, orchestra event.Just once look into the faces of the members on stage and see the pride in there faces. See the effort of all the hard work. Experience with them the teamwork involved in each performance then make a decision. D Plasket
tex January 31, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Let's just get rid of *everything* non-academic, and let UDSD just become a mediocre school district, rather than a desirable place to raise a family.
tex January 31, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Maybe that house can't sell because it's a POS. I can cite a dozen examples of houses in my neighborhood that have sold for phenomenal prices. Compare home values in UD to our neighbor, Springfield. The difference has nothing to do with the economy.
qdogPa January 31, 2013 at 07:36 PM
With pensions costs and medical costs for school employees rising EVERY year, there is no end to is dilemma...every solution mentioned is just a stopgate ntil the next year or two...radical changes need to be made, and most will HAVE to come from the school personnel
Curmudgeon January 31, 2013 at 08:07 PM
All the comments about the music and art programs being a positive for the district and education are true. What are your solutions??? Not one of you commented when the school distriict gave the teachers union a 4 year 19% ( in reality a 24% with icreases for sevice and education achievement increases) a year early and shortly after the 2008 econimic disaster. $2.5 million increase this year plus the PSER's contribution, wonder why we have such a deep problem!!! I don't have any solutions that are better than the cuts. The horse is out of the barn.
sdaccos February 03, 2013 at 03:51 AM
I was at the meeting, and you are a liar. Dr. Pladus said no such thing. The teachers and administration are negotiating possible compromises. Give everone a break with the self-righteous indignation. Nobody is buying it. Give the teacher who commented a break, they are actually correct.
JB February 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM
I work in college admissions, I assure you I never look negatively on a student if they come from a school with a weak music program. We look at academics first and foremost, extracurriculars are bonus for those students who aren't as strong in the academics.
Janet Rosen February 04, 2013 at 10:50 PM
I am a former teacher of both elementary school and gifted education. I know from experience that children have many different kinds of gifts, some have academic talents but others are gifted in art and music and others in sports. All of these need to be nurtured to create healthy people who feel good about themselves and grow up to contribute their talents to society. Our school district should not discount this.
Margery Hesney February 05, 2013 at 02:56 PM
As a musician and music educatori I know what an important role music can play in one's life. For children, it can enhance their self esteem, broaden their horizons, and boost their learning potential. By making all of the music teachers in the district part-time, it would essentially be the end of all of the wonderful after school performing arts groups, including the marching band, choral and orchestral ensembles and theater groups. The beautiful new high school performing arts center will not serve it's purpose and our school district's wonderful reputation will rapidly go downhill.

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