SM East families challenging proposal to reduce Band Director’s hours

SM East’s Jazz Band playing at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival. (Photo via KCJazzLark.blogspot.com).

A group of SM East parents are in the process of organizing a massive display of dismay at news that next year’s proposed school staffing plan would cut the Band Director from a full-time to a half-time position.

Should the position be reduced as currently planned, it appears the school’s two jazz bands — the Blue Notes and the Blue Knights — would be consolidated, and one of the two music theory classes current offered would be cut as well.

Principal Karl Krawitz told shawneemissionpost.com a loss of enrollment at SM East next year is at the root of the problem, not necessarily a lack of funds. Because the school is projected to have at least 100 fewer students, the new administration will be faced with reducing staff by five teachers. Cuts will come across several disciplines and teachers will be reassigned to other buildings where there are retirements rather than losing their jobs, Krawitz said.

SM East is losing a senior class of 465 and will have a freshman class of 397 coming in next year. In addition, transfers are expected to drop from 65 to 22 as boundary changes work through the system.

Krawitz indicated the staff is still looking at all alternatives and hopes to come up with a solution. In past years, the band director has taught both jazz bands in the same room at the same time Krawitz said.

But news of the planned cut drew swift reaction from band booster families in the area, who say the loss of a full time teacher would damage one of the most celebrated music programs in the state. This past year, a full quarter of the students who made up the Kansas State Jazz Band came from SM East.

“SME is a school with a strong reputation for academics and support
of the arts,” reads a letter sent by the group to SM East Principal Karl Krawitz, Assistant Principal John McKinney, and members of the district board and administration. “Families move into this district so their children can be part of this creative learning environment. Surely SME does not want to be known as the high school that does not support the arts.”

The parents are urging members of the SM East band boosters to attend Monday’s Board of Education meeting to challenge the plan.

Here are the documents the group sent to the school and district officials:

https://dfv6pkw99pxmo.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Band-Letter.pdf

https://dfv6pkw99pxmo.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Band-letter-attachments.pdf