Community Expresses Concerns Regarding Music Education


Several members from the community attended the Carbon School Board meeting on May 8 with concerns regarding the music education within the district.

These concerns arose after Helper Middle School’s (HMS) Band and Choir teacher, Marcus Navarro, announced his resignation. Within the following weeks, Carbon School District (CSD) published a help wanted for a part-time music teacher, leaving the community in doubt of their students receiving a music educator full-time.

Castle Valley Musicians President Liz Bryner expressed her concerns during the public comment portion of the meeting, stating that over the past two years, the music opportunities have been diminishing within the CSD. According to Bryner, within the last few years, Mont Harmon Middle School (MHMS) has dropped their music programs in half by only offering one full-time certified music educator on staff when in the past, MHMS has had two full-time music educators.

With HMS’s music teacher resigning and CSD posting a part-time music teacher to fill that position, it emerged concerns for Bryner, as well as other community members.

“We’re on a trajectory where the middle school music programs are shrinking, which is going to have a cascading effect on the high school and the community’s music at large,” said Bryner. “It’s resulted in diminishing opportunities for the students.”

Board President Jeffery Richens clarified that Navarro was actually not a full-time music teacher. He was hired as a part-time music educator and the district was able to fill his schedule to full time with other classes once he was qualified to teach them, explaining why they are hiring for a part-time music teacher.

Also, since the music programs are an elective, students are choosing which classes they are interested in. Richens explained while the district encourages students to enroll in music classes, if the students are unwilling, the district has to put them in the classes they want to be in.

“I just feel like we really have to protect that unique environment that those kids in the music program have, that don’t really have a home anywhere in the school, have found belonging, a place to be, a community there,” said concerned parent Leslie Holzer.

Superintendent Mika Salas further explained that while it seems like a drastic change within the music education, the district has been at the front line of this dilemma for approximately five years.

Around 2019, CSD was beginning to notice the decline of the student enrolling in music education. With knowledge of that data, CSD demanded that music was a required class for sixth graders to enroll in, with hope of the students potentially growing to enjoy the program. This also came with criticism from the parents who were then required to rent or buy a musical instrument.

Unfortunately, CSD efforts of persuading the student to enjoy music did not suffice. Seventh grade students did not sign up for the music programs once it was no longer required, resulting in the decline of the opportunities in the music program in the middle school by half.

“I don’t think anyone in this room wants to cut the music program,” said Bryner. “Whether we want to cut music programs or whether we allow them to be cut, the result is the same.”

Superintendent Salas concluded the meeting by announcing that CSD is currently facing the lowest enrollment in over the last 15 years. With the community shrinking, this causes a chain reaction. The fewer students who will be attending school within the district results in the need of fewer teachers, impacting in more programs being cut.

“We don’t take any of this lightly. We recognize the impact that cutting department’s programs among students,” said Superintendent Salas. “I just hope you understand that these are very difficult decisions all the way around to make.”

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