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Franklin Regional officials consider dropping elementary music program.

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Franklin Regional officials are considering cutting the strings on one of its elementary music programs.

Due to retirements in the district, board members are considering cutting the elementary strings program, which provides about 30 minutes of instruction each week to 85 students in grades three through five.

The program, which was initiated about six years ago, was designed to build interest in a high school orchestra. However, just 13 students registered for orchestra for next year. The district has not had enough interest from students to offer orchestra at the high school in two years, Principal Ron Suvak said.

“I really enjoy what we do with the arts here, but if we're not getting enough critical mass to kick-start the program at the high school, we're not doing what we set out to do six or seven years ago,” board member Joe Seymour said.

Board member Jane Tower suggested that students could join a community strings orchestra rather than one funded by the school district.

“Around the area, there are several orchestras that want young people. There are many opportunities out there,” Tower said.

The program was on the chopping block two years ago but was saved when the board agreed to not lay off teachers for two years. Seymour said if it's renewed this year, that won't guarantee it will stay a part of the district's curriculum.

“If it's not this year, we're going to keep coming back to it,” he said.

The move wouldn't result in any teacher layoffs. Seventeen teachers will retire this summer, and officials plan to replace nearly every position, particularly those in core subject areas.

Instead, the board would not replace a retiring teacher and reassign the strings teacher to another position.

The elementary music position isn't the only one officials are considering absorbing. Administrators have recommended combining two language positions at the high school — an English teacher and a French teacher — if a replacement with certification to teach both subjects is found. The new teacher would spend half of the day teaching French classes and the other half teaching English. And during the new, 90-minute quality resource period, the teacher would offer a French class.

“Philosophically, when we have the opportunity to capture a position and not substantially cut programs, I feel we should take that,” Cook said.

Each eliminated teaching position would save the district about $80,000, plus benefits, finance director Jon Perry said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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