Students at North Judson-San Pierre High School staged a sit-in today to protest the school’s decision to move the band to the auditorium and turn the music suite into a weight room. Superintendent Lynn Johnson says in a letter to choral and band parents “the intention is not to devalue music.” She says the existing second floor weight room behind the bleachers is no longer structurally sound and must be located on the ground level. Johnson adds major renovations are not possible at this time due to financial concerns.
Her letter explains physical education is a required course of study for high school students, and the curriculum includes physical conditioning. Johnson says “this means all high school students use the weight room, not just athletes”.
“It’s a conditioning room and all of our physical education students in the high school use that room,” said Johnson. “There is a safety issue. The room is no longer safe and would require some major renovations. Right now with our budget situation we do not have the money to do major renovations so it’s a matter of moving some things around. We looked at different areas that could possibly work. We’ve been looking at this for several months, actually.”
The band will move to what Johnson describes as “one of the most state of the art auditoriums in the area with exceptional acoustics.” She says the stage area will be set up as the classroom area for instrumental music. Secure storage will be added over the winter break. Johnson says this can be done at a minimal cost.
North Judson-San Pierre’s budget has been cut significantly in recent years, and additional, deep cuts are anticipated. Johnson says the school does not intend to eliminate music programs next year.
“Music is an integral part of the programs we offer our students. However, safety comes first. We are doing the best we can to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” she says in her statement.
The students’ sit-in will not come with disciplinary action.
“The administrators decided that as long as the kids took their finals and they followed procedures – it gave them a chance to just talk it out that’s not always a bad thing. There is no disciplinary action. As I said as long as we return Monday after break and are ready to learn, everybody should move forward. That’s what it’s all about.”
Read Johnson’s letter here: North Judson-San Pierre Music and PE Letter