RANDOLPH, NJ - After announcing the final schedule for the Randolph Middle School program, the Board of Education and administration received more comments from parents and students. The new schedule moved strings and chorus rehearsals before school and band rehearsals after school.

Superintendent Jennifer Fano began the meeting by reminding the public why she considered changing the schedule.

“I was concerned with students being pulled from any subject area three times per week. So I wanted to look at if we could make a change and have a positive impact for the whole child, not just any one department,” Fano began.

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Because of music classes taking place during the school day, students missed 40% of their physical education and health instruction, Fano explained. She also presented the middle school music schedule over the past 10 years, with after school sessions taking place from the 2007-2008 school year through 2012-2013. From years 2013-2015, the large music ensembles met during lunch, and 2015-2017 brought all music sessions into the regular schedule.

Visual/Performaing Arts Supervisor Frank Perrone presented the new music schedule during the June 20th meeting. The new schedule will allow for the music staff to team teach, and since no ensembles overlap, a student could enroll in all three options, Fano added.

However, rising 7th-grader Jason Goldner expressed his concerns about band rehearsal conflicting with his baseball, dance and religious school commitments.

“Music is very important to many kids, including me, and it is a class, so it should only be during the school hours,” Goldner said. “As a kid, I enjoy gym and I see the point of wellness education, but the schedule was working out fine in my opinion… You talk about educating the whole child, but you are depriving us of our music or our after-school activities, whichever one we choose.”

He mentioned that if music took place before school, he would not be able to participate because he would “have little time to sleep, and I wouldn’t be able to keep up my high grades.”

Parent Liz Clogher spoke of her son who plays trombone, but also participates in competitive swimming four days per week after school. She suggested students be able to audit the lesson during the day if unable to attend the after-school sessions.

“Right now my son is only being pulled out of gym twice a week… the health unit he participates in is one of four marking periods. What we’re talking about is in essence nine more days of health classes over a course of a year,” Clogher said. “In order to provide continuity for my son if I choose to have him withdraw, it will cost me $5400 a year to provide 150 minutes of music instruction [per week] on our own.”

Marie Mechanick, whose daughter plays viola and sings in the chorus, mentioned that her daughter does not wish to double this year “because it requires her to get up early on two consecutive days on Thursday and Friday, and she has an extracurricular activity on Thursday evening.”

“We have caused children to choose between continuing with our music program and their other after-school activities,” Mechanick continued. “After changing our school start times to encourage more sleep, we are now requiring the students to come to school early again and we have extended their day.”

The full middle school music program schedule can be found on the Randolph School District website.