CUYAHOGA FALLS: Calling it a rumor that won’t die, Falls schools officials made another attempt to set the record straight Monday.
Since April, Superintendent Todd Nichols has tried to quell rumors that a new approach to learning being developed in the district would mean the end of the music curriculum and the beloved Pride of Cuyahoga Falls Tiger Marching Band. Changes are to go into effect in 2014.
On Monday, with more than 50 parents, students and staff in attendance at the school board meeting, Nichols repeated his intentions.
“Neither I nor the board have considered altering the Cuyahoga Falls marching band or music program,” he said. “I tried to quell this rumor when I spoke at Silver Lake Elementary and Bolich [Middle School], but still the rumor persists.”
Nichols and board President Kellie Patterson said they have been unable to determine where the rumor started.
Now, a month after the rumors started, parents and students are venting frustration through an anonymous Facebook page. Many think Nichols and the board rushed into hiring a consultant to help develop the new program.
Patterson and Nichols apologized during Monday’s meeting for email correspondence that included some nasty comments about a parent and a teacher.
“In the email, I was not as professional as I should have been,” Nichols said. “I, too, am frustrated with regard to our position in Summit County relative to the new standards, and frustrated with my inability to quell rumors involving the music program.”
While the email was intended to be private between him and Patterson, Nichols promised all emails he sends in the future will “reflect a professional tone.”
Caleb Weatherbee, 16, the incoming student council president, told the board that respect, trust and support are three elements vital to successful leadership and need to be exhibited in Cuyahoga Falls.
The 2014 curriculum will be interest-based, starting in middle school, so that students can choose a college or career path that will lead them into the future. Music fits well into that curriculum, Nichols said Monday.
Parents said the board and superintendent have failed to communicate that information and have failed to make them part of the decision-making process.
Linda Martin said her son has agonized for weeks about the future of the district’s band program.
Other parents said that when they have asked questions about the changes coming in Cuyahoga Falls, they were told to look at Reynoldsburg schools, in suburban Columbus, as a model.
The Reynoldsburg music program did end as part of the curriculum, however, and became an extracurricular activity.
Nichols said that’s not going to happen in Cuyahoga Falls.
“Reynoldsburg is a fine school system, but any changes we make will be because they make sense to the Falls,” he said.
Gina Mace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.