Music Teaching Changes Make No One Happy

Parents lament the loss of Stanley School music teacher John Reynolds.

The music changes please no one.

Veteran High School music instructor Edward Jack will be transferred to Stanley Elementary School next year where, along with some Middle School music teaching,  he will fulfill full-time music teaching duties, the superintendent reported at Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

At the same time, first-year music teacher John Reynolds, who made his mark at Stanley School this year, is being offered Jack's post at the high school, but only as a part-time employee, the superintendent said.

The transfers came about after school administrators learned that Jack's high school music position was really only a .4 position as far as music duties were concerned, said Superintendent Lynne Celli

The rest of the position's time involved non-teaching responsibilities, but the teacher was being paid a full-time teaching salary, she said.

The superintendent said High School Principal Layne Millington and others worked from February up until June 15 to try to remedy the situation by increasing music electives including orchestra.

But in the end, student demand was not there for additional music instruction and the position remained at .4 time; and the district could not, given the tough budgetary choices they face, pay Jack a teaching rate for non-teaching duties.

Celli did not elaborate on what those non-teaching duties included.

Celli said the school administtation, in keeping with collective bargaining requirements, had to offer the veteran high school music teacher a full-time position because he had seniority.

The full-time position he was offered was held by first-year teacher John Reynolds.

Reynolds, in turn, is being transferred to the .4-time position at the high school, but most people believe another school district will offer Reynolds a full-time position.

The loss of Reynolds, who was very successful engaging Stanley students in music, and the loss of Jack at the high school, where he is a respected music teacher, left parents confused and disappointed.

Parents including Ariel Wallen, Marianne McDermott and Patty Colone told the School Committee that the situation made no sense and they were very disappointed with the changes.

Several parents said it was disconcerting to observe what looked like chaos taking place in the school system.

Parent Marianne McDermott said she felt parents were "shut out" of the process.

"To be successful in education you've got to partner with the parents," she said.

All the parents said they were saddened that the children were losing an enthusiastic music teacher who had connected with the students.

The superintendent said she was equally disappointed to be losing a young teacher who had accomplished so much in a single year.

Still, she said the high school music teaching schedule was a holdover from an earlier administration and was uncovered by the current administration.

The district was then required to act in accordance with protocol.

The superintendent said it appeared as if the music staffing decisions happened all of a sudden, but in truth school principals and others were working up until the last day to try to broker a solution.

Later, in interviews, the parents took a more conciliatory view.

One parent said she was walking away with a better understanding of the situation after hearing about the predicament.

Still, disappointment reigned outside and inside the School Committee at the projected loss of a successful elementary school music teacher and the transfer of  a successful high school music teacher.

"This is the terrible part of the job," said Committee Chairwoman Jacqueline Kinney. "We hate to see it when young, vibrant, energized people have to leave."

Committee member Jaren Landen held out hope for a creative solution.

"It's too bad the talents aren't being put to proper use," she said.

But the ending remained the same, on an unsatisfying note.


Ernie Street June 23, 2011 at 02:34 PM
We have a current superintendent who works a .6 position per week and is paid full-time. Why is she allowed to only come in 3 days per week? Ed Jack and John Reynolds are much more valuable in their current positions than an overpaid underperforming superintendent. Something is very wrong here!
David Matela June 23, 2011 at 06:55 PM
David Matela No doubt that everyone is trying to work within the framework but it sounds to me that the problem is the collective bargaining agreement. "We hate to see it when young, vibrant, energized people have to leave." I have a hard time with this particularly when it comes to Swampscott's children.
Elizabeth Walls June 23, 2011 at 10:04 PM
This article implies that Ed Jack is only working .4 of the time but getting paid 1.0. In the last go-round on this 3 years ago, which was also sprung on folks by a principal at a school committee meeting with little or no warning, he was .4 at the high school, but spent the rest of his time in instruction at the middle and the elementary schools in instrumental and band there, although there were other music teachers for chorus and standard music ed. The real culprit here is most likely the new "waterfall" schedule where band at the high school is at a different time each day, making it untenable for the high school band teacher to be able to fit into the schedules at the other schools. I, too, hate to see "young, vibrant, energized people have to leave" as apparently Mr. Reynolds will do rather than accept a part time position that is at a different time each day, and I also hate to see Mr. Jack, who has served Swampscott and educated many fine instrumentalists for the last 25 years be forced out of the high school level.


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