Plano ISD officials clear up questions from parents worried about staffing

PLANO -- Many of us have great memories of school activities like theater, athletics, or playing an instrument.

Some Plano ISD parents are worried about their kids making memories after a band director resigned and another retired. They say replacement numbers don't add up.

"We just heard that there will not be two full-time teachers on staff so that has me concerned," says PISD parent of two, Mary Kirk. And she isn't the only one.

An email sent out to parents of band students at Wilson Middle School says "It will be extremely difficult to maintain the high-quality band program" and "let your Plano ISD leaders know that this type of decision is not acceptable."

A petition is also circling with more than 150 signatures to "Demand that PISD fully staff its musical arts programs."

"My question," says Kirk, "is where is the money and why can`t we staff these art programs."

District officials say take a beat and listen:

"There seems to be a misperception that the district has made staffing changes specifically affecting fine arts. School enrollment determines staffing allocations, therefore a decrease in enrollment can mean a decrease in staffing. If that occurs, principals have the difficult and sometimes painful decision to determine how to allocate resources. In this case, based on program enrollment, the total number of staff members in music remained the same, however, there was a shift in allocation, changing the band apportionment from 2 to 1.5 staff members, while choir moved from 1.5 to 2." They also said in a statement:

"There is not a correlation between bond funds and staffing. Funding to hire more teachers or increase teacher pay is not an allowable cost for a bond proposition. Salaries and raises come from operating funds. Bond proceeds may only be used for capital projects. In the bond program approved by voters in 2016, fine arts renovations and additions were included for several high schools and middle schools, along with the construction of a district fine arts center. The 2016 bond program also included $2,750,000 for music equipment replacement and $175,000 to replace marching band towers. It is important for our community to know how much Plano ISD values the more than 60% of secondary students who participate in our award-winning fine arts programs.

 As school board president, I would like to encourage our community to reach out directly to the board with concerns such as this. Learning about them indirectly through social media makes it hard to have a dialogue, which is important to the board. If there are specific questions about campus-based decisions, parents can always reach out to their school principals. Additionally, the community can reach out to district staff members via the district email address, AskPISD@pisd.edu.  
— Missy Bender, Plano ISD School Board President"

Complaints may not be music to district officials ears but still, they say they want to hear from parents whatever the issue may be, whether it`s musically inclined or tax related.