May 11, 2004
Desert Mountain High School’s concert, jazz and marching bands are invited to England for New Year’s Eve to perform in the London Parade Festival.
But since fewer students are signing up for the classes, combined with budget constraints forcing all classes to have at least 32 students, one jazz band and a jazz choir will likely be among performing arts classes cut next year.
Teachers at the Scottsdale school say they are concerned the cuts would damage an award-winning school and place its trip to England in jeopardy. Over the weekend, the jazz students won multiple Sweepstakes and Gold awards at the Heritage Festival in Anaheim, Calif.
"It’s the top honor," said choir teacher Wayne Tarter.
Today, students and teachers will gather for the second time before the district governing board at the 7 p.m. meeting at 3811 N. 44th St. in Phoenix to urge the district to save classes at risk because of budget cuts and class-size requirements.
This year there are two performing jazz band classes of about 20 students each, but the school will have one class of at least 32 students next year.
Larger classes would make it harder to attend festivals under a competition requirement that jazz band have 18 performers, said jazz band teacher Michelle Irvin. She said her choices are either having half the class perform or creating two performance groups from one class. These options are tricky because one fewer class would mean her contract would be cut back to 80 percent — which means she would need to leave the school during the day to teach at another school to make her full salary, Irvin said.
Dance classes that had 20 students also will be affected, and film and video class will not be offered.
Principal Brian Corte said even a slight shift of students interested in the performing arts could dramatically change class sizes and offerings.
Kelli DeCarlo, chairwoman of the visual arts department, said visual arts classes were cut this school year, losing a teacher. Next school year, a part-time teacher will become full time, and three additional classes will be created based on increased student demand.