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Our View: Bands may have to settle for 3 leaders
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Whether to have three or four band instructors at the Monroe High and Middle schools is an ongoing debate that at times has been emotional. A fund-raising commitment from the group Community Helping Instrumental Music Education (CHIME) bought the school district three years before a decision had to be made. That time has run out.

The school board now must determine whether to fund a fourth band instructor, or continue to include only three positions in the budget. The position was cut from the budget in the spring of 2006, but has been kept alive by CHIME. The group's commitment ends at the finish of this school year, and its members wisely have determined it would be difficult to ask community members to donate money during the economic downturn.

Unfortunately for the group's members, the same logic very well may apply to the school board's decision. Given the difficult economic times for the schools, funding a fourth band instructor might not be the best use of the taxpayers' dollars.

That, ultimately, will be the school board's decision to make. It must decide the funding for the band program as it should for any other spending proposal, based on priorities and not on emotion.

The district administration has determined that the fourth band position is not a priority for next year's budget. It did not recommend reinstating the fourth band position.

It would be difficult to argue against most of the priorities the administration has set, including an extra fifth-grade teacher to prevent having to transfer students, teachers and possibly an administrative position for the district's growing virtual school, and an additional kindergarten teacher to accommodate a large class. Any continued discussion of a fourth band position should weigh the merits against the administration's priorities.

Since the last board meeting, two longtime band instructors have announced they will retire at the end of this school year. The hope is that being able to bring in new instructors at lower pay will allow the district to fund four teachers at or near current spending levels.

The retirements shouldn't factor into the board's decision. If the district administration believes, and the board agrees, that it's acceptable to operate its band department with three instructors, that decision should hold regardless of retirements.