District 203 board narrowly approves curricular requirement for music programs

  • The Naperville Unit District 203 board voted 4-3 to require students who participate in extracurricular music groups to also take a music class or technique lessons.

      The Naperville Unit District 203 board voted 4-3 to require students who participate in extracurricular music groups to also take a music class or technique lessons. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/24/2023 6:56 PM

The Naperville Unit District 203 board narrowly approved a plan to require a curricular element in high school music programs next school year.

Public speakers at Monday's board meeting also were divided on the plan that will make it mandatory for students participating in extracurricular music activities to take music courses as part of their schedule or attend lunchtime technique lessons once or twice a week.

 

Several students expressed frustration with the plan. They said it would force them to choose between music and other electives, such as foreign languages, that are becoming more important for college applications.

The proposal passed by a 4-3 vote, with board members Charles Cush, Joseph Kozminski and Donna Wandke opposing. Cush didn't like the idea of forcing tough decisions on students with already crowded schedules.

"One of the most precious resources that our students have is time," Cush said. "What we're telling people is ... what you're committing to this is not enough. The six to eight hours per week that you're spending on this already, voluntarily, is not enough.

"I have significant concerns with that."

Wandke was against moving forward without data to use as a guide.

According to district officials, 265 students are enrolled in music courses at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools. Thirty-eight percent of the 250 students involved in extracurricular music activities are enrolled in music courses.

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Monday's vote affects 2023-24 only. Plans for future years will depend on feedback.

Administrators said the curricular requirement is necessary to keep up with established standards and best practices at surrounding school districts. Ideal staffing changes, they said, would add full-time band, orchestra and choir teaching positions at each high school.

"The precedent should be that we get the experts to tell us what to do," board member Tony Casey said. "This is a proposal that has been thought through and has many levels, and we should support it."

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