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Middleton schools to consider cutting fourth grade orchestra program

Families in Middleton are fighting to keep a music program, arguing a forthcoming decision will impact their community as a whole.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - Families in Middleton are fighting to keep a music program, arguing a forthcoming decision will impact their community as a whole.

Cutting the fourth grade strings program is up for consideration in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, Spokesperson Shannon Valladolid confirmed Wednesday. Valladolid said the decision has not been made at this point as board members and district leaders “continue to listen to all voices and investigate options.”

About 60 percent of all district fourth graders are currently taking orchestra, according to a district orchestra teacher.

Monroe Durand was in that program seven years ago, sparking his love for the viola. “It all started in 4th grade. I think much of it was shaped by fourth grade because it was, really, the first experience I can make sounds with,” he said.

He publicly shared with board members Monday that cutting the program “is not something that would be wise to pursue.”

The move would mean orchestra begins in fifth grade. In a letter sent to families last week, a district principal wrote, “This change allows for the district to more efficiently staff the band and orchestra programs.”

“A year doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is quite a lot. It would really like widen that gap,” Durand told NBC15.

His mother Leilani said, “I’m so disappointed it’s in jeopardy.”

“We’re really a growing community, and a lot of people move to Middleton for the schools. You start cutting the schools, you start cutting the extracurriculars, you start losing some of that attraction of the schools— it does hurt the community,” she added.

NBC15 is waiting for the district to offer additional explanation of why the fourth grade program is being considered for removal.

Valladolid said the district will keep families informed of any decisions made regarding the program.

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