Oak Parkers passed a referendum for the schools last fall. District 97 told us we needed to raise our property taxes in order to maintain our art and music programs. Our community supports the arts and understands the value of arts education. The referendum passed.

One would think all is well in the schools. However, I have discovered there are serious problems with art and music programs namely, lack of appropriate space, lack of adequate staff, which leads to a lack of appropriate time for the teaching of art and music.

Schedules have become extremely crowded for general music teachers. For example, some teachers have 6-7 consecutive class sessions in a morning or afternoon. There is no time for a bathroom break. General music teachers have groups of 25 students coming and going every half hour for three hours. There is barely time to set up and take down for each class, with little time left for instruction. Exhausted teachers cannot offer the best of instruction.

Some teaching situations are inappropriate. The general music classroom at Longfellow School, which had previously been housed in a spacious room on the third floor, is now located in a tiny, dank sub-basement room with very little room for special equipment which costs thousands of dollars. Also, there is little room for movement, which is an important part of general music.

From what I heard, there was discussion in some quarters about moving instrumental music out of the regular school day. That would mean a total deterioration of our excellent instrumental music program.

The public should become aware of what is happening in the schools. Find out what is happening in your local school. Contact the superintendent and board members if you have concerns.

It would be a shame if things were not well, after having agreed to raise our own property taxes to support art and music.

Elizabeth Rexford

Retired District 97 general music teacher

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