Reacting to parents concerns, Assistant Superintendent of Schools John Brackett said there will be changes to the elementary school instrumental music program in the fall.
The changes will not return the instrumental music program to a non-fee, in-school program. Two years ago, due to budget cuts, the elementary instrumental music program and band were eliminated.
"We still have financial issues returning the program to an in-school program," said Brackett.
Since the instrumental music and band program was cut from the Framingham Public Schools two years ago, an after-school fee-based program was created at each elementary schools thanks to the support of the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest and Centre Music House.
However, numbers of students taking instrumental music lessons has dropped from 600-700 students two years ago to about 185 students this year, Brackett told the School Committee last month.
Parents said after-school classes, conflict with other extracurricular activities combined with the fee to learn an instrument were the main reasons for the reduction in numbers of fourth and fifth grade students learning to play a musical instrument. They also said the program in its current form would have a serious effect on the middle school and high school music programs, if it stayed an afterschool, fee-based activity.
Brackett formed a task force made of up students, parents and Framingham staff to look at the elementary instrumental music program. The recommendation was to phase in changes to the program.
Phase one would begin in this fall. Classes would be offered before school to reduce transportation issues for working parents. It is estimated classes would be offered 30 to 45 minutes before the start of school. Logistics would need to be worked out with each school's principals.
With lessons and ensemble before school, it eliminates conflict with other after-school activities like dance and sports, explained Brackett.
Also in phase one, a stipend-funded band director would be created to work with the Performing Arts Center of MetroWest to coordinate the program. The goal of this position is to coordinate the elementary programs with the current middle and high school programs.
With this change in the fall, "Framingham Public Schools would have a little stronger and more intensive involvement in the program," added Brackett.
The School Committee supported the changes, when Brackett presented it to them last month.