Springbrook High Credit: Photo via MCPS

The future of the music department at Springbrook High School is being questioned after one of two instructors received a transfer notice last month.

Each year, the school system shifts teachers based on fluctuating enrollment in schools, aiming to retain teachers and adequately staff schools, according to a school system spokesman.

Along with overall school enrollment, teachers chosen to be transferred based on class enrollment, and with a decreasing interest in music programs at Springbrook, one full-time position will be reduced to part-time.

At a recent school board meeting, Springbrook community members said the move jeopardizes the success of the program and will limit the availability of after-school programs.

“Springbrook students deserve a school with a complete music department offering a wide range of instrumental and vocal music classes and extracurricular activities,” said Heidi Mansen, whose two sons graduated from Springbrook and who has a daughter who is a freshman at the 1,800-student school. “To maintain the music department’s current level of excellence, Springbrook needs to keep both full-time educators.”

Springbrook’s enrollment is projected to grow relatively slowly, adding about 20 students next year and 100 over the next three years, according to school system data. Some local high schools are expected to grow by up to 400 students in the same timeframe.

Mansen said the one remaining full-time teacher and part-time instructor will be teaching too many classes, such as symphonic band, marching band, orchestra, jazz band and piano, choir, guitar and music theory classes.

A school system spokesman said the system is attempting to be fiscally responsible by adjusting to student interests and needs.

He said teachers who are given transfer notices are able to move to different schools or, if their position is reduced to part-time, they can choose to work part-time in their role and part-time in a different position at the same or different school.

“It’s not like the position would go away, it just looks different,” the spokesman said. “We found to be efficient, we don’t want to have overstaffing in our schools.

The choir instructor is one of four full-time teachers at Springbrook selected to be transferred, according to school system staff. The number of teachers across the school district to be moved was not disclosed.

Kathryn Pong added enrollment in music classes is declining at Springbrook because students are often unable to fit them into their schedule with the amount of required classes they must take. She also said eight schools in the county with lower enrollment have full-time chorus and band teachers.

A 2018 graduate of Springbrook High, McKenna Stratton said music classes “changed my life” and is key to unite people of all ages, genders and races.

“Music programs need more support, not less,” she said. “The support provided by the music and theater programs helped me to find my voice. … This helped me to focus on my personal health, academics, community involvement and to gain communication skills that are used – and will be used – in every sphere of my life.”

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com