The quality of Douglas County’s school music programs hit a sour note with School board trustee Sharla Hales on Tuesday.
“I’m concerned about our music program,” Hales said. “I’m interested in knowing what the school board can do to improve it. I don’t think we have a quality program.”
Hales who has served most of three terms and will be term limited out next year said she felt it was an important issue for the board to address, though she was unwilling to be more specific in her criticism.
Board members heard a presentation from Director of Curriculum Rommy Cronin on the district’s music education program.
The program was rocked at the beginning of the school year when Douglas High School Music Director Bill Zabelsky left for Carson City three days before marching band practice was to begin.
His daughter, Sarah Holland, who was music director at Carson Valley Middle School left over the summer for a job in California. Casey Fry was hired to replace Holland at the middle school. No replacement has been announced for Zabelsky.
Cronin pointed out that the people hired to run the music programs have a great deal to do with its quality.
Music education starts in the elementary schools, where all students receive an hour’s instruction a week for one semester a year, culminating in fifth and sixth-grade bands. There are three elementary school music instructors in Carson Valley, who serve two schools each.
Students who participate in band at the elementary schools have to get to school an hour early and the location floats between the two schools.
At the middle schools, music is an elective, and what’s offered depends on what students sign up for.
Carson Valley Middle School has band, advanced band and chorus, while Pau-Wa-Lu also offers world drumming and music appreciation.
Students have to audition to enter advanced band at the middle schools.
Funding at the middle school competes with other electives, Superintendent Lisa Noonan said. Principals get so much money from the district to run the school and determine how much goes to each area.
Part of orientation for middle school and the high school is finding out what electives students are interested in and using that information to determine what the schedule will look like.
Douglas High School offers band, chorus and jazz band, and students must audition to participate. The marching band is considered an extracurricular activity.