RIPON SCHOOL’S vocal music will be best served next year if Christina Muenchow, shown, continues to teach at the middle-school level, enabling Rachel Zarzyski to focus primarily on the high school program.
RIPON SCHOOL’S vocal music will be best served next year if Christina Muenchow, shown, continues to teach at the middle-school level, enabling Rachel Zarzyski to focus primarily on the high school program.

     ... when enrollment declines, sound fiscal management suggests a commensurate cut in staffing is prudent.

     So few can argue with district administrators’ decision, after reviewing enrollment numbers, not to replace retiring elementary music teacher Barb Stracy.

     However, the plan to fill her shoes may be an unnecessary exercise of musical chairs.

     Last week, Ripon School Board members were told that job responsibilities for the 2017-18 school year will be shared  between the district’s one part-time vocal teacher, Julie Brooks, and the two full-time teachers, Rachel Zarzyski at the high school and Christina Muenchow at the middle school.

     Assuming Brooks wants the extra hours offered, this is a win-win as the district can fortify her employment while paying one less staff member.  
But here’s the rub.

     The plan calls for Brooks to move from Murray Park Elementary School to Barlow Park ...

     Muenchow ... will direct only one of the five choir sections in the school where she’s taught for 15 years. She’ll now teach primarily at Murray Park Elementary School ...

    Zarzyski, who was hired two years ago to rebuild a vocal program that was decimated before her predecessor was fired, now will give lessons to, and direct, 6th and 8th graders as well as her high school ensembles ...

     This cascading of positions puts teachers in front of students but seems counterproductive to the goal of rebuilding participation in a solid, stable K-12 music program that has suffered waning participation in part, due to past personnel problems.

     ... Perhaps the School Board might consider keeping Muenchow at the Middle School and asking her, Zarzyski and Brooks to share the Barlow Park music program load.

     This enables the teachers to remain largely in the schools where they have been effective, while spreading their talent to teach lower-level, elementary music — all at no additional cost to the district. ...

                          — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the March 30, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.