In reversal, small town will keep music in school

There haven’t been many cases of school music programs surviving cutbacks, despite the pleas from parents and educators that there’s learning value in the arts.

But the music program in Laporte, Minn., will play on, the Bemidji Pioneer reports today.

It’s a small town, the school board chair says, where the elected officials listen to people.

School board members voted unanimously last night to rescind their earlier decision to eliminate the music program and cut its only music teacher.

They had earlier claimed students in the town of 114 were no longer interested in music, even though the optional programs were full.

It took the town by surprise and there’s a reason for that, the Pioneer says.

The school board had been advised by the Minnesota School Boards Association to keep things quiet and make the cut.

“I can tell you that I think we got very poor advice, and we listened to poor advice,” Joan Moorhead, a board member, told attendees at Tuesday’s meeting. “And in retrospect, we should have gone with our hearts instead of listening to poor advice from legal counsel.”

(Music teacher Louise) Bass said she was happy to be reinstated and optimistic about the committee’s ideas. She said she’d like to see a second staff person teach band and take over some of Bass’ elementary classes, which would free her up to teach choir and the remaining elementary lessons.

A public hearing will be held next week with parents to discuss ways to rebuild the music program in school. One parent suggested emphasizing learning to play an instrument and also produce some musical theater.

(h/t: Kristi Booth)