Last month, administrators at the Haines School decided not to renew the contract of a music teacher to save money in the coming year. Administrators said the position would be filled internally by a current teacher. That led to strong opposition from some members of the community. Now, the district has announced which teacher will lead the music program next year.
“Mr. Matt Davis will be our music teacher,” says Superintendent Tony Habra.
Davis is currently the high school math teacher. Next year, he will teach five periods of music a day and one period of math.
Habra says one elective music class, music theory, will probably be cut.
He says he is certain Davis is qualified to teach music.
“He’s taken classes in college, he’s been in band all over the city, during Christmas he was part of the trio that was asked to play all over. He’s been in the pep band,” says Habra.
Additionally, Habra says Davis will get ready for his new responsibilities with further training.
“Then there will be supports within the system to support him,” says Habra. “People who have musical experience and can back him up.”
This move comes as the district is expecting an about $360,000 budget deficit in the coming year. Last week, the school board voted 4-2 to accept the resignation of the current music teacher, Jason Muccino. The vote came after testimony from more than a dozen people worried about the future of the music program. Here’s Ann Marie Fossman.
“If the district releases Mr. Muccino, I’m afraid that the music program would suffer,” said Fossman.
He resigned after being told his position would be eliminated. According to Habra, that will save the school about $90,000.
When Davis moves to music that leaves an obvious gap in high school math. Habra wouldn’t specify who will teach those classes or what other classes could be affected when things shift around.
“You’re not going to get an answer on that one, there just isn’t one,” says Habra. “I mean, I’d love to tell you that this stuff happens in a specific way every time but it doesn’t. It really depends on what goes on within the building, what’s important to the students, and what students are signing up for.”
He says there are multiple teachers certified and qualified to teach high school math within the district, indicating the classes will be distributed among several teachers. But he declined to name which teachers those are, saying they don’t know at this point who will take on what.
He said given the number of qualified teachers, he doesn’t think community members will be concerned about what this means for the future of the math department.
Habra did say other classes will feel the effects of the change.
“There will be other classes affected,” says Habra. “When I say affected that doesn’t necessarily mean gone forever, that could mean rotated through.”
He says it’s too soon to say exactly how this is all going to shake out.
“We aren’t ready to have a master schedule yet,” says Habra. “Master schedules change all the time. Classes are cut all the time. Classes are added all the time. It really depends on what’s best for the students and what the students need.”
Habra pointed out that right now, the student-to-teacher ratio is pretty good, compared to other districts in the state. It’s currently 11 students for each certified teacher.
“With this loss of two more certified teachers we will be at about 12.5:1. The state average is 16:1 and they are including counselors. So I think we’re still well below the average, we’re still providing as much support as we can, and we’re still providing a tremendous amount of opportunity for a district our size,” says Habra.
Though the details of what next school year will look like are vague, what is clear is that changes are coming as the district adjusts to a shrinking budget.