Report: Teacher seniority costs Woodbury school a band class

Buried deep — far too deep — in a Woodbury Bulletin story about Valley Crossing Community School, a school operated by three area school districts — is a different twist on the issue of how a teacher can be laid off.

Are kids in the school losing band as collateral damage from a teacher layoff? Or is a teacher losing a job because school officials intended to eliminate a music program?

The school is getting rid of its band program as part of a $1 million cut in staff. That’s nine classroom teachers, three specialists, a music program and a Spanish program.

The paper says the program was cut because the music teacher doesn’t have the seniority to survive the layoffs. Other teachers at the school have more seniority, according to ISD 916 superintendent Connie Hayes.

Hayes said the decision to cut music stemmed from the fact that the music teacher has less seniority when compared to other teachers at the school.

(District 833 superintendent Tom) Nelson said he plans to meet with ISD 916 and the other two superintendents later this month to address his concern.

“The cuts need to be fair and equitable,” he said.

“They cut band, which is ridiculous,” District 834 Superintendent Tom Nelson said. “Those kids deserve band just like the kids in our own district.” Nelson’s district is one of the three districts that send kids to the school.

Parents were not given any opportunity to voice their opposition to the staff cuts.

A message to ISD 916 superintendent Hayes has not yet been returned.

Update 1:29 p.m. – Email from Supt. Hayes:

Band/Orchestra was not targeted specifically. We will have fewer students next year at Valley so we needed to make staffing reductions to match the number of students. We currently have music staffed at 1.75 FTE.

One way schools typically use the specialists, like music, in the schedule is to create planning time for teachers to be out of the classroom. With the reduced number of students, we no longer need the additional .75 FTE to create the planning time. The individual teaching B/O has less seniority than the other music teacher. However, this .75 FTE teacher is the one only person licensed to teach B/O.

I have a meeting with the superintendents from the sending districts next week. I anticipate some discussion about band/orchestra.