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Menomonee Falls approves school curriculum changes

March 12, 2013

Menomonee Falls - The Menomonee Falls School District is looking to phase out some of the current curriculum while making room for new courses next year.

The Menomonee Falls School Board Curriculum and Learning Committee made changes to the graphic arts, design, Project Lead the Way and healthcare programs.

The committee on Monday chose to study the music program at North Middle School and the High School before any decisions are made. Potential cuts affecting the music department that have been a recent concern of parents are not being made for the 2013-14 school year; if changes are made, they would be for the 2014-15 school year.

The district is looking to trim $2.4 million from its budget. Changes for the 2013-14 school year are not official until the preliminary budget is approved in August.

However, the administration needs direction with regard to staffing because preliminary layoff notices must be sent out to staff by March 28, with final layoff notices issued May 15, according to district documents.

No course eliminations in music

The Learning Committee approved a slew of curriculum changes on Monday. They approved a .2 full-time equivalent employee reduction in the music department by eliminating two co-director positions. This does not effect classes.

Learning Committee Chair Faith Vanderhorst directed the administration to research the entire music program before any further decisions are made in music. She said they need to have a plan moving forward so parents know the direction of the program into the future. Tentatively, an in-depth meeting on the department would be held in May.

"We would like to not decide on this piece, and come back and have a meeting to talk about what is the goal and mission of the whole music program," said VanderHorst. "No, we're not cutting any band program, we're just changing the way it's delivered."

Keyboarding gets cut

The committee voted to eliminate keyboarding (typing) classes at the middle school and high school. VanderHorst was concerned about eliminating keyboarding all together at the middle school, saying there are students who may need extra support in learning the skill.

The district will strive to offer keyboarding classes during summer school to accommodate these students. If it is offered in summer, letters would be sent to parents of fifth-grade students to let them know.

Middle School Principal Lynn Grimm said the school has implemented a tech support program, in which the older students provide support in these skills to younger students needing help.

In place of keyboarding, Grimm is building a career-focused course at the middle school. Eliminating keyboarding in high school equates to a .2 FTE reduction.

Less design, more health care

Family Consumer Science courses will begin to change next year. Design programs are being eliminated at the middle school, and Trends and Design, an introductory course at the high school, also is being eliminated. The advanced courses of Interior Design and Fashion Analysis will be available next year, so students who took the intro course this year can complete the program; however, these courses will be phased out in 2014-15.

Instead, courses that focus on the health care industry, as part of a career and technical curriculum, will be added because the district sees that as a strong job-market industry.

"These programs are wonderful programs and they have been wonderful, but we are not in a growth position to keep offering them," said Director of Curriculum and Learning Gary Kiltz. "As difficult as this is, when you look at what we're offering and where we should put our resources, we are proposing to put our resources into health care to build that program."

In addition, the committee approved eliminating graphic arts, in favor of increasing Project Lead the Way courses, which offer engineering-based curriculum. The introductory graphic arts course will be phased out in 2013-14, with the advanced courses removed the following year.

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