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Guilderland music teachers denounce proposed cuts

Educators ask to restore 0.25 FTE, Wiles says need not yet demonstrated

Guilderland school district music teacher Diana Ackner reads a letter 10 music teachers signed petitioning for 0.25 FTE be taken from the 5 FTE unassigned teaching positions for next school year and placed into the music department.

Guilderland school district music teacher Diana Ackner reads a letter 10 music teachers signed petitioning for 0.25 FTE be taken from the 5 FTE unassigned teaching positions for next school year and placed into the music department. Photo by John Purcell.

— Several school district music teachers are petitioning proposed cuts to their department, which totals less than half of one full-time equivalent position next school year.

The Guilderland Board of Education recently adopted a 2014-15 budget, which faces a public vote on May 20 and included cutting 0.3 full-time equivalent position for a savings of nearing $20,000. Some music teachers attended the board’s Tuesday, April 29, meeting and requested 0.25 FTE be taken from the 5 FTE unassigned teaching positions included for next school year to place in the music department.

Superintendent Marie Wiles stressed to board members if any of the reductions needed to be restored, she would tap the unassigned teachers.

Board members had given Wiles discretion to restore or keep the proposed music reductions based on if scheduling could be properly adjusted.

Diana Ackner, who has taught music at the district for more than 25 years, shared a letter at the last school board meeting, which was 10 music teachers signed. She said the letter was collaboratively written.

“Some of our feathers were just a little ruffled from the last meeting,” Ackner said.

She pointed to the reason given for instrumental music cuts in the superintendent’s budget, which stated, “A close review of the daily schedules of elementary instrumental music teachers reveals that there are a number of available instructional blocks when teachers are not scheduled with students, but could be.”

Ackner said the teachers disagreed with the rationalization and said they already have a full-day schedule. She added the scheduling of elementary blocks could not be as easily shifted as proposed because the high school has a fixed block schedule.

She said it’s also inaccurate to claim the elementary lessons are “completely flexible.”

The district administrators’ review also revealed “many” elementary lesson group sizes were as few as two students.

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