RANDOLPH, NJ - After six music teachers resigned from the district, Randolph parents and students again voiced their frustration the board of education members and school administration about the proposed changes to the Randolph Middle School music schedule.
“Our teachers are our most valuable assets, and those recently departed will not be easy to replace,” said Marie Mechanick, treasurer of the String Parents Association. “Add to the ongoing concerns about music scheduling, this avalanche of resignations within our music department, most of which have occurred within the past several weeks, is most disconcerting.”
“The positive publicity that all our music teachers and students receive in the local press and on social media cannot compete with the amount of negative press our district is receiving because of the mass exodus of educators from our district,” began Pam Williams, president of the Band Parents Association. “How can we expect qualified educators to want to be part of our district when it is clear that our music program is in shambles?”
“If anyone wants to suggest that these teachers left for better opportunities, they are deceiving themselves. The music teachers left primarily, if not exclusively, because of the administration’s failure to address the middle school music schedule in a fair and timely manner. That is a fact,” Williams concluded.
Board members Christine Aulenbach and Susan Devito voted no to accepting the resignation of these teachers, with Devito adding her “sincere sadness for some of the resignations on the personnel motions tonight. I think they’re incredibly unfortunate… I’m extremely disheartened.”
Board Member Colleen Pascale voted yes with the explanation that she needed to support the desire of these teachers to resign, but “it’s extremely unfortunate that this is their desire, and why it came to this.”
In light of these recent resignations, parents and students suggested the administration postpone implementing a new schedule for at least one year, when they have filled the vacant music teacher positions and sufficiently discussed the changes with these new staff members.
Martina Mcelroy presented a survey by each booster club board showing how parents believe that any changes to the music schedule would impact their students’ ability to participate in the program.
While the administration stated they worked with after-school programs to ensure none would overlap, Mcelroy mentioned that 90% of middle school parents responded that their child participated in at least one non-school related after-school activity.
“Over 70% of respondents said that their preference for the third 50-minute music session would be during the school day. The remainder are evenly split between a preference for morning or afternoon,” Mcelroy reported. “Respondents said on average that there was a 49% chance that their child would miss one or more after-school rehearsals per semester for reasons other than sickness.”
Mechanick expressed her disappointment in a return to before- or after-school music rehearsals, “especially after all the effort spent by our district in evaluating optimal start times for each school… Why, after already lengthening the school day by nearly 30 minutes as part of that process, are we considering an option that will either bring students participating in the middle school music program to school earlier or extend their school day later?”
As presented in a previous board meeting, the proposed music schedule would replace one school-day ensemble rehearsal with a session before or after school. The current schedule pulls students from electives or wellness core classes three times per week, and the proposed changes would reduce that to two times per week.