Fairbanks School District discusses proposed changes to music education

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 5:22 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On February 17, the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) School District sent an email to music program staff in the community outlining its plans for the department in the coming school year.

This email received attention over perceived cuts to the program, specifically elementary music education. “The purpose of the email was... to address some basic questions that had come up and we were thinking would come up as we moved forward with some of the changes that are happening in the district,” said Chief School Administrator Karen Melin.

The email addressed what would happen with teachers at schools facing closure next year, including Joy Elementary.

5th graders currently receive Band and Orchestra instruction from teachers who travel from school to school in the district. This budget takes away those positions and reallocates them to more permanent middle school positions. “That’s where it looks like we’ve cut 2.8 teachers,” Melin said. “They’ve actually moved into another place in the budget.”

This, Melin hopes, will provide more depth to middle school music instruction, allowing better preparation for high school band programs. “When you have three years to really give students an opportunity to explore and build a certain skill level in an instrument, then you build your high school music program.”

Since the email became public knowledge, Melin says there’s been a misconception that there will be no music in schools. “Pre-K through 12 music options are going to be available for students. While it might not look exactly like it has in the past, there will still be music education, and, I believe, quality music education for our students.”

Melin noted that this budget proposal is not final, and is subject to review by the district School Board. “The role of the administration is to give to the board a proposed balanced budget, so with the money that we have, this is how we want to spend it.”

The board will spend the month of March fine-tuning the district’s proposal, with the final budget proposal scheduled to head to the borough assembly by April 1.

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