School halls no longer alive with the sound of music

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Some PS 24 parents don’t like the sound of next year’s music curriculum. 

The school has cut its vocal teacher and instrument instructor — the only two full-time instructors who provide every student with lessons in rhythm and melody at least once during the school’s six-day class cycle. 

Assistant Principal Manny Verdi said the school was forced to let the teachers go when staff members unexpectedly returned from long-term leaves. He said PS 24 is committed to finding new ways to integrate a music program into students’ schedules next year. He mentioned partnering with non-profit organizations or creating a musician-in-residence program as possibilities.

“Music is not going to die at PS 24,” Mr. Verdi said. “We are going to have something for the children that’s significant to them. We’re not going to roll in an assembly program for 900 children and say, ‘Hey, we just did it. There you go. They saw an oboe.’”

The assistant principal said the Parents’ Association has pledged to try to fund the music clubs or enrichment courses currently offered. 

The cuts came after PS 24 learned that three teachers on long-term leave — two who had been away on maternity leave and one who was involved with the Peace Corps — would be returning to the classroom next fall. Mr. Verdi said their contracts allowed them the right to return to work. Since the school’s enrollment is projected to remain flat, officials had to cut three teachers to balance its budget. 

A kindergarten teacher added this year to help mitigate crowded classrooms due to a jump in enrollment was excessed in addition to the two music teachers. 

Excessed teachers remain employed by the Department of Education and collect a salary from the city while applying for openings at other schools.

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