Nelson’s Trafalgar Middle School has been forced to cut its teaching staff by 3.3 full-time positions.

Trafalgar and LVR banding together

Students create petition against changes to band program.

Trafalgar Middle School will reduce its teaching staff by 3.3 full-time teachers (FTE) for the 2014-15 school year and anticipates its student enrolment to drop by 30 students next year.

It’s a move some fear will impact the school’s band program. However, school officials say the music will continue.

“We have been working hard to create a solution that will work for our students and maintain a strong band program,” said Trafalgar principal Carol-Ann Leidloff

“I am pleased to announce that Brent Cross, a vice-principal at L.V. Rogers Secondary, will be teaching the six blocks of Band 6, 7 and 8 here next year. Mr. Cross was a very experienced and successful band teacher before moving into a school leadership position.”

Tim Bullen, LVR’s current band teacher, will be teaching the Jazz Band 8 program at Trafalgar.

“We’re really excited by the skill and expertise this will bring to our school,” said Leidloff.

“This is a positive solution for both schools as we are purchasing only the actual time we need for our band program. This helps LVR with their staffing challenges. LVR, like many other schools in our district, is also are in the position of having to reduce teaching staff.

“This provides opportunities for musical collaboration between LVR and Trafalgar, mentorship/leadership opportunities for LVR students, and a bridge between the LVR and Trafalgar bands that will also help our students as they transition into LVR in Grade 9.”

She said there will be no change to the number of blocks of band that are being funded.

The school will continue to run the six blocks of band plus two blocks of jazz band 8.

“Mr. [Grant] Freeman, the current band teacher, also volunteered to run Jazz Band 7 (something that hasn’t been offered before this year) on his own time,” said Leidloff.

The principal said they are working hard to continue to provide a strong academic program and many explorations classes for students in spite of the 3.3 FTE teacher reduction.

“We will continue to offer the highly popular Lifelong Explorations classes, and will also maintain our Core Explorations program,” said Leidloff.

Due to the staff reduction, all temporary positions will not be re-posted which includes the current band teacher, Freeman, whose contract finishes at the end of this school season.

Leidloff said Trafalgar has two other teachers whose current contracts will not be renewed and a number of continuing teachers will have slightly larger assignments.

Before the new band teacher announcement was made, Andrew Jones, Trafalgar PAC co-chair voiced concerns about the effects of the changes to the Trafalgar band program in a letter to education minister Peter Fassbender, Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko, and Nelson Mayor John Dooley stating: “In light of the teaching cuts proposed for Trafalgar Middle School, students and parents are taking action.”

A student organized online petition demands that School District 8 reinstate adequate teacher funding for Trafalgar Middle School to allow the posting of a dedicated band teacher for the band program.

Two hundred and 50 signatures had been collected on a petition addressed to superintendent Jeff Jones as of Tuesday.

Andrew Jones added that a student-organized band protest at Trafalgar is planned for Friday at 12:30 p.m. The petition will be presented to a representative of SD8.

“Factor in our aging building with substandard facilities, decrepit washrooms, and now this, you can see how Trafalgar’s reputation in the community will erode even further,” said Andrew Jones.

“In my opinion, the band program is one of the few things that Trafalgar has done well — it has impacted hundreds of students and parents in a very positive way.”

Comparing the 2013-14 school year to 2014-15, student enrolment is expected to decline by 151 students for Kootenay Lake district enrolment overall and there will be a reduction in five FTE teachers.

The operating budget for the 2014-15 school year in Kootenay Lake has been reduced by $1.86 million. (The 2014-15 operating budget is $49.89 million, while the 2013-14 operating budget was $51.75 million.)

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