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Will your child(ren) be attending Lansdowne Middle School next year or in future years?

We have been asked to pass on the information below.   Current Lansdowne parents and music teachers are concerned that their excellent music program is in jeopardy due to a lack of increased funding from the District, and they are looking to parents to advocate for the program before the District finalizes their 2020/21 budget on May 25. If possible, please take a minute to read the information below. Thank you!

Dear Music Parents/Guardians, 

We are writing to inform you about concerns we have over the future of the music program. Despite Lansdowne Middle School’s student population dramatically increasing for the 2020-2021 school year, the school district has given us no increase in music staffing. As a result, the program will not be able to continue running the way it has and will likely limit students’ opportunities. We need your help in advocating for our music students as the district budget has not yet been finalized. 

Information

During the catchment boundary review process, our community expressed concern over access to programming as a result of expanding to two campuses. Our community was assured that all efforts would be made to maintain access to programs, such as the music program. However, we have received no increase in staffing, which will negatively impact the program. 

As the school population increases, so will the number of students that participate in music. Although we do not know exactly how many students will be involved in music next year, we can estimate these numbers based on years of past enrolment information. With an approximate school population of 700-730 students next year, we estimate we will have 350-365 students in band, 119-124 in choir and 98-102 in strings. Counting each band, choir and strings student as a separate student, we estimate that we will have 567-591 students involved in the music program next year. 

The school district currently provides us with 1.8FTE for music staffing (1.0FTE is a full time position, so 1.8FTE is just less than two full time positions). Lansdowne has historically contributed to music staffing what they can, generally bringing us to just over 2.0FTE. We appreciate the support that our administration gives us and our concerns are at the district level. Having two teachers working with nearly 600 students is very concerning and does not follow SD61 contract language. According to D.1.7 in our restored Collective Agreement, "Total student load for band and choir shall not exceed 200 students per (1.0) FTE teaching assignment unless the teacher requests a higher limit." Note: Strings should be included in this language and string teachers have in practice, been included in this language in recent years. 

Possible Implications:

  1. Students will be poorly supported. 

  2. Certain classes and core areas of the program may not be offered (ie. losing a jazz band, or losing choir entirely).

  3. Limiting the number of students that can participate in the music program. 

  4. Extra opportunities may be cut back (Tours, festivals, concerts, Musical Desserts, fundraisers, etc.). 

  5. Music teachers will be spread even thinner: With more students and teachers running between two campuses, music teachers will be spread even thinner. Students deserve to be well-supported and they deserve teachers that are able to give their best. 

Action Items: 

We are asking that any parents/guardians that are interested in advocating for the music program contact our Board of Education, our Superintendent of Schools and our Associate Superintendent of Schools. Our Board of Education is approving the 2020-2021 budget at their May 25 meeting, so we have an opportunity to voice concerns in advance of this meeting. If planning on writing a letter, we would encourage you to do so sometime in the next week. 

We are not providing a template email as we think that personalized, positive messages will be more meaningful than a template. We are providing a few key points and are encouraging parents/guardians to speak specifically to how the program has positively affected their child(ren). We do not want to start an angry mob, but rather send messages that are positive and express concern. 

Key Points: 

  1. The Lansdowne Music Program has received no increase in staffing despite a rapidly increasing student population, the expansion to a second campus and an assurance that this expansion to a second campus would not affect access to programming. 

  2. The Lansdowne Music Program receiving no additional staffing for next school year has many possible negative implications, including students being poorly supported, certain music classes not being offered, limiting the number of students that can participate in the music program, extra opportunities being cut back (music tours, festival performances, fundraisers, etc.) and music teachers being spread even thinner. 

  3. The Lansdowne Music Program has positively affected my child because _______________. 

  4. Call to Action: Please re-assess the need for increased music staffing at Lansdowne Middle School for the benefit of current and future music students. 

Contact information: 

Please feel free to pass on this information to any future Lansdowne families or Lansdowne alumni. We need as much support as possible. 

Please contact us with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your support, 

Denver Rawson, Brian Anderson & Sierra Phosy

Music Teachers

Lansdowne Middle School 

About this newsletter
This newsletter is written by parents for parents to communicate information to interested members of the school community. Every parent/guardian at EMJS is automatically a member of the EMJS PAC; therefore, the views expressed in this newsletter may not represent the views of all, and while editors strive to ensure the information is correct, the school itself and school calendar shall be the trusted source for official school news and announcements.
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