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District cuts band position

TERI VANCE
Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Alan Catron reviews the first measure of 'Bryce Canyon Overture' with his band students at Fritsch Elementary School. His position as traveling band teacher to Fritsch, Bordewich-Bray and Seeliger elementary schools has been cut, so Catron will take over as music teacher at Bordewich-Bray.
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To teach his band students the first measure of a new song, “Bryce Canyon Overture,” Alan Catron mapped out the sequence of notes on the board.

Then he had the students clap out the rhythm.

“Does that make sense?” he asked them, after several practice runs.

“Yeah,” the students replied in unison.

However, Catron is having difficulty making sense of the plans to cut his position as band teacher at Fritsch, Bordewich-Bray and Seeliger elementary schools from the Carson City School District.

“Music is recognized by the federal government as a core subject,” he said. “So they have cut a core subject, but have left non-core subjects and activities intact.”

Catron was notified last week, along with nine library aides and a classroom aide, that his position would be eliminated as part of an effort to save money.

He attended the Carson City School Board meeting along with other employees who will be affected by the layoffs.

Richard Stokes, associate superintendent of human resources said the cuts were necessary to end spending more than the district takes in.

The cuts will save the district $575,000.

Catron will take over as music teacher at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School.

That will leave Mark Wurtzel, who moved to Carson City from New York last year, without a position.

“I was disappointed,” he said “Not only for myself but for the program and music in general.”

Catron said eliminating one music teacher will increase the work load of the other teachers and decrease the amount of time students will be exposed to different types of music.

Under the new system, each general-music teacher will also be in charge of assembling a band.

“It’s like asking a fifth-grade teacher next year to teach kindergarten. It’s not something they wouldn’t be capable of, but they probably wouldn’t be comfortable doing it,” he said.

“I was drawn to band; some of the other teachers are drawn to general music. Now we’re being asked to move out of our own area of expertise.”

And he fears weak band programs at the elementary level may have long-term effects.

“The high school band has really accomplished a lot this year,” he said. “I’m afraid we’re going to see that program being hurt.”

Although Catron is grateful to have a job, he is also wary of the future.

“I know that I am in a career that I’m always on the edge of the chopping block,” he said. “It makes me a little concerned for next year.”

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.