Previous Discussion Topics
Working with Administrations

In our continuing effort to provide worthwhile information to band parents
everywhere, here are several messages describing a problem encountered by
one of our members in Michigan, and the helpful responses she received from
list members.  This file provides a number of useful "lobbying" ideas for
band parents, and several useful links.
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From: Khok 
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:16:55 EDT
To: Boosters@seadeo.com (Band Boosters)

Subject: Need help with Administration and School Board

I seems to always turn to you all for ideas with our problems here, and you
have always come up with some wonderful helps for us.  So thanks in advance on
this one.

Here is our situation in a nutshell.

1. We have been through 8-9 band directors in as many years.  One year we had
4 different directors! Some have been good, some have not and we were glad to
see them leave.

2. Our total music program is only band, with one class of either jazz band,
or solo/ensemble a quarter at the middle school level, which is being
eliminated next year.

3.  The number of students in our grade 5-12 band program has grown.
        91-92 School Year, 30 in High School Band, 107 in Middle School Bands
        98-99 School Year, 80 in High School Band, 210 in Middle School Bands

4.  Over all of these years, our program has only had one music teacher for
grades 5-12.  The last 2 years a para pro has been hired to help that teacher
for 3 hours a day.

5. We have been patiently publicizing our situation for 2 years now, following
protocol as far as how we have approached the administration and the school
board.  Making polite requests for additional staffing, we have recieved
instruments to the tune of about $10,000, which we sorely needed, mostly
percussion for marching band.

6. We like our current band director. His teaching skills have surpassed some
our our best past directors, in my opinion.  Last year, his first year here,
he took kids who were angry at him, simply because he was new and not the old
band director, to festival and got a 3.  This year he took a group of kids who
love him, worked hard for him and had a pride in themselves to festival and
got a 1.  Pretty good for one year I think!

7. We requested money from the adminstration to purchase concert uniforms for
our kids from president tuxedo at $20 each to go to state festival and they
turned us down.  57 students x $20 = $1140!  (we are currently building a
weight room with some school funds and alot of donations that is running over
1/4 of a million!)

8. Our band director planned on going before the school board this next month
and requesting additional staffing.  He has already gone to principals with
little hope of success.  He also has a request in for more large instruments
to accomdate the number of students for about $44,000.

9. He has been told not to go over the principals heads and do that, and since
he is not tenured, he is scared.  He doesn't want to cause a problem any more
than he believes he already has, since most of the other teachers do not like
this young and popular teacher, who believes in the students like they are
real people and not just things to be monitored and controled. (another issue
I better not get off into).

My question is, what do you think an appropriate next step should be? I would
like to call every parent to be at the next school board meeting and demand
another teacher in the music program. The students are crying for expansion.
We have no "extras", no choir, no jazz, no solo/ensemble, no music
appreciation, theory.....  just band.  (the good news being that the 6th grade
will have band everyday next year instead of every other day!).  Our community
ed opened up a class for strings and it was filled the day it was offered!
Based on a ten percent drop rate, which is what we have (or less), our numbers
will be 359 total students in 5-12 in the next 4 years.  And that is only if
our town doesn't grow.  However, the planning commision has approved over 200
new home units in the last year!  We are the next small town ear marked for
major growth in our area!

Well, I have chewed your ear for long enough.  HELP!  What would you do?

Thanks again, Kathy
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Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 12:29:51 -0500 (CDT)

To: Boosters@seadeo.com (Band Boosters)
From: tandy@wstandy.com (Bill Tandy)
Subject: Re: Need help with Administration and School Board

Dear Kathy,

I think the next step is your parents because it sounds like all other
appeals through "proper channels" have been exhausted. You have a good
Director that is committed, so he will probably stay if you can protect
his job. Letting parents (aka: voters) express their opinions to the
Board will give your Director some protection and maybe even some job
security.

So how do your parents express their opinions to the Board? I would
try the positive approach first. The parents should communicate to the
board that they are pleased with the Board that it has made it possible
for the music program to grow from 127 students to 290 students. "But
because the program is in demand and because it is more than twice as
big as it was 6-7 years ago, it has some needs that have not been met.
Here is where I would shock em. Forget $20 uniforms. Figure out what
you all need in terms of facilities, vehicles, equipment, instruments,
full uniforms, music, staff, curriculum and technology for a complete
first rate music program. Survey your students and parents about their
interest in adding courses more classes to the curriculum in choir,
orchestra, ensemble, music theory; in your survey find out how much
parent (voter) support there is for what your real needs are.
Do you have any State law which requires school districts to offer
a course if a certain number of students/parents request it? If you have
a law like that, cite it in your survey and in your presentation.
Does your school district or State have definite curriculum standards
for music? How do those line up with the music courses your district
offers? How do student/teacher staffing ratios compare to eachother
in different subject areas? There are some underlying problems somewhere
that have contributed to the huge turnover in Directors. This is
undermining the education mission.

Have an officer of the Booster club make a public presentation to the
School Board of your needs and the survey. When you present the survey,
say that you surveyed 580 moms and dads with children in band, and
here is what they responded....  You need an
organized well thought out presentation that demonstrates support
for a first rate music program.
Check the newspaper archives for articles about the school board
members and see if any of them, their spouses or children have
a special interest in one of the fine arts areas. Start trying
to figure out who your friends might be on the school board.

Start sending material to school board members about topics and
issues in music education. Make sure every school board member,
every principal and the superintendent is on your newsletter
mailing list.

Make sure all of these people get an invitation to every
performance or other worthy music event/activity. Keep them
up to date on progress in the program. Honors and awards students
and teachers receive. Special recognitions.


The best thing you have done for yourselves is encourage the program
to grow from the lower grades up. As long as your music program is
growing in the lower grades, the whole program will continue to grow.

In summary, document your needs, then survey parent support for your
needs, then present the results in public to the school board and
include some suggestions about how the school board could meet those
needs and make lots of voting parents and teachers happy.

Hope that gives you some ideas.

Bill Tandy in Austin, TX
tandy@wstandy.com
------------------
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 17:35:04 -0500
From: Islas 
Reply-To: cgislas@airmail.net

To: booster list , Khok 
Subject: Re: Need help with Administration and School Board

Kathy,

Bill Tandy said it very well.  Here are some more thoughts

(1) As Bill said, do your homework.

First define what you need to build a program that will provide the
level of music education your children deserve. When you talk with board
members about your plans use language that describes what your children
need and what your children want to accomplish, rather than what you
want or what your band director needs. Always be POSITIVE!

(2)Gather allies.

 Are there community leaders who's children are part of the current band
program?  Get the on your side!  Always be positive!

(3) Demonstrate a genuine commitment to the school board.

Can you raise some of the money you'll need yourselves?  Write a plan
similar to a business plan and then get started.  Use some of the
fundraiser ideas that get listed here with our group.  Do you collect a
band fee from the students in your program or do you rely only on money
the board feels it can give you?  Even a small fundraiser combined with
a small fee may go a long way to impress the board.

(4) Get more support.

Is there a local university with a music program?  If so, try to get
their support for a large improved public school program.

Our percussion director recently arranged for The University of North
Texas Drumline to make an appearance at our percussion concert.  They
performed side by side with our students and it was a VERY exciting
show.  It also shows our board that UNT (a highly recognized music
school) recognizes the good work our program is doing.

(5) I can't agree more with Bill's advice about getting the support of
the parents.  Find examples of other programs that you would like to
immulate and tell the parents about them. They are the tax payers and
the voters and they/we hold the real power in our wonderful system.

I think it is wise to let your band director take a back seat. He's in a
difficult situation because these are his bosses. Ask him to be
available to talk with parents who may have questions and to help define
the success and growth of his program. Find out what contests and events
he would like to take the kids to. He can also help by sitting some
stretch goals for next season.

Our school district is also VERY tight with the funds that are spent on
music. Our schools always need instruments and our band halls and
practice rooms were never designed for the number of students we have.
Our high school can't even get all 360 students into one room for a
meeting much less a rehearsal.  The district does provide top notch
teachers, but that's because they WANT to be here. Lewisville ISD is
famous for some of the lowest teacher salaries in North Texas!  Yet we
have a very good school system and an outstanding music program.  The
secret to our success is PARENT SUPPORT.

Here's some web sites with information that you can use when make your
presentations.

http://www.amc-music.com/

http://www.mhopus.org/

http://www.vh1.com/insidevh1/savethemus/html/involved/whatyou.html

Best of luck Kathy.  Your taking on a very important fight. Please keep
us posted on your success.  I'd be glad to write a letter as a band
parent and booster club member from another school district or assist in
any other way.  I know we'll all give you our support. Go get 'em...

Charles Islas
The Colony Band Booster Club
The Colony, Texas
http://www.why.net/home/cgislas

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