Thursday, March 7, 2013

C.R. faces the music [now with official P.R.]

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

click to enlarge ed-macan-at-the-piano.jpg
There will be a lot less music in the future at College of the Redwoods if the college administration follows through with plans for reductions in class offerings in its music department.

Earlier today the Journal received a leaked copy of a memo sent by C.R.'s music department head Ed Macan to C.R. students and faculty at C.R. and Humboldt State University. Macan detailed changes in the music program that will affect most music classes. Courses including concert band, jazz ensemble, studio band and oratorio choir are shifting into the college's Community Education program, which means students will not receive transferable credit if, for example, they transfer into the HSU music program.

According to Paul DeMark, C.R.'s director of communications and marketing, the cuts are in part a response to budget restraints imposed by the state. "We also have a structural deficit here, which means we're spending more on a variety of things than we're taking in. That's why we're making these judicial cuts.

"We're facing a serious financial crisis here. We had layoffs last year. We're still facing a $2 million deficit," he said.

DeMark said with less money coming in from the state and not enough coming in from enrollment, the college is focusing on courses in three areas: basic skills, career technical and coursework for academic transfer for those moving up the education ladder.

"What we're trying to do is based on reallocating resources to areas where classes are in demand," he said, for example, speech, math, English and biology.

Regarding the pending cuts, DeMark said, "It's not just music. There are other areas."

DeMark crafted a press release laying out C.R. President Kathryn G. Smith's views on the subject. It mostly reiterates what he'd already said, but he details other programs being cut back: "Other subject areas that have had the number of class sections reduced include construction technology, anthropology and foreign languages such as French, German and Japanese." Here's the whole thing, dated March 13:

CR reallocating resources to better serve students' needs

College of the Redwoods is taking steps to reallocate faculty and student services resources to better serve students and help them succeed.  

As declining state revenue and increasing expenses continue to plague California community colleges, CR is finding it necessary to decrease offerings in some areas and reallocate those resources to high-demand classes.

After a review of student demand in previous semesters,  CR will be increasing  the number of classes in the 2013 summer and fall class schedules needed by the majority of students planning to graduate or transfer.  These include speech, English, math and biology. Other areas where classes will be added include Native American Studies, sociology and psychology.

"By increasing the number of classes in these high-demand areas, our goal is to help students complete their degrees and certificate programs faster," said CR President Kathryn Smith.  "The state of California is emphasizing the importance of having more students complete their educational programs. At CR, we want to help our students succeed and move on to a four-year university or into the job market."

In the student services area, CR is initiating a new First-Year Experience Program for students aimed at helping them to be successful. This program includes: mandatory counseling and student education plans; more structured orientation as well as online orientation; early alert intervention; and special student success workshops in study skills, financial literacy and time management.

These student success initiatives have been developed collectively by faculty, staff, administration, managers and students.  The Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, with direction from the State Legislature, has required community colleges to adopt some of these programs.   

Serious fiscal issues add to need for changes

The primary factor in CR's reallocation of resources has been the serious financial challenges facing the college.  CR is trying to close a $2 million gap in its budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Over the past five years, CR has received 13 percent less in state funding to operate the college.  That funding decrease is combined with the fact that CR's operating costs have continued to climb with salary, health benefits and utility costs.  This is causing a "structural deficit."

"That means as a college, we are increasing our yearly expenses while receiving less funding," Smith said. "We have exhausted our reserve funds. So we have to move our resources to areas that are needed by students and that will increase enrollments. More students mean an increase in funding from the state for CR. We are working hard together to make sure CR remains vital and sustainable."

Smith added that "in order for CR to receive the same amount of revenue in 2012-13 as last year, we must enroll the equivalent of 100 additional full-time students in the summer 2013 term."

To address its financial challenges, in the last three months, CR permanently eliminated 39 staff and management positions, and will eliminate two senior level administrative positions by July 1, 2013.

While no academic or career technical education programs have been eliminated at the college, certain areas have had courses offerings reduced. One area is music. The degree program which includes music courses -- the Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts -- remains completely intact. However, the performance classes, including such things as the Concert Band, the Jazz Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, Chorale and Opera Production -- are slated to be moved to CR's Community Education division.

Part of the reason for moving these classes to CR's Community Education program is the state recently imposed a limit on repeating classes.

"CR values these music classes as does the community, so we hope that they will continue to exist as a part of Community Education," Smith said.  "The Chancellor's Office has mandated that every community college must focus on these three core missions - degree transfer, career technical education and basic skills programs in English and math."

Other subject areas that have had the number of class sections reduced include construction technology, anthropology and foreign languages such as French, German and Japanese.

And here's that memo sent out by Ed Macan:

To: All C.R. MUSIC STUDENTS

From: Ed Macan

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2013

Re: REDUCTION OF C.R.'s MUSIC PROGRAM

In recent weeks, the College of the Redwoods' administration has made the decision to reduce the size and scope of its Music program. This reduction will take full effect in the Fall semester, 2013.

What does this mean?

The College has made the decision not to renew the contracts of its associate (that is, adjunct or part-time) music faculty after the end of Spring Semester 2013. As a result, Ed Macan will be the sole remaining music instructor at C.R.

Therefore, the following courses will not be offered in the near future:

Music 22B/P/W - Beginning Band - (Brass, Percussion, Woodwinds)

Music 26A/B - Beginning Class Voice

Music 27A/B - Intermediate Class Voice

Music 29A/B/C - Class Guitar

Music 44 - Opera Production

Music 59 - Chorale

Music 61 - Concert Band

Music 62 - Jazz Ensemble

Music 63 - Wind Ensemble

Music 64 - Studio Band

Music 70 - Oratorio Choir

The following courses will continue to be offered:

Music 1 - Introduction to Music

Music 2A - Beginning Harmony and Musicianship

Music 2B - Intermediate Harmony and Musicianship

Music 3 - Advanced Harmony and Musicianship

Music 10 - Music in History

Music 12 - American Popular Music

Music 24A/B - Beginning Class Piano

Music 25A/B - Intermediate Class Piano

The administration has expressed intent to move the Concert Band, Jazz Band and Choir to the Community Education division, where they would continue to be offered, but not for credit. Therefore, if you were a music major who planned to transfer to Humboldt State University or another institution, you could not transfer any ensemble credits, because there would be no credits to transfer-Community Ed. courses cannot be taken for credit.

Q. Are the courses that are no longer being offered being deleted from the College catalog?

A. At this time there are no plans to delete the courses from the College catalog. The language that the administration has used is that the College will not financially support the offering of these courses at this time.

Q. If I am a music major planning to transfer to a four-year institution, does this affect me?

A. Yes, but its precise impact on you depends on what institution you are transferring to and precisely what your major is. You can still take C.R.'s two-year theory sequence and two-year piano sequence and either transfer the credits to your institution of choice, or test into a comparable class in that institution's analogous sequence. You are most likely to be impacted by the lack of opportunity to take for-credit ensembles at C.R., as many institutions expect students transferring in as juniors to have at least four units of ensemble credit.

Q. I want to express my opinion about this decision: what is the best way to do that?

A. There are several avenues open to you:

(1) Go to the Board meeting, held the first Tuesday of each month, request to speak (there is a form you will be asked to fill out), and convey your feelings about this decision.

(2) Write a letter to your Board member. The College of the Redwoods web page has a page for the Board of Trustees that will tell you who your Board member is (it varies depending on where you live) and how to go about contacting them.

(3) Write a letter to President Kathryn G. Smith expressing your feelings about this decision. This letter can be sent as follows: President Kathryn G. Smith/Presidents' Office/College of the Redwoods/7351 Tompkins Hill Road/Eureka, CA 95501. Or she can be reached by e-mail at Kathy-Smith@Redwoods.edu.

(4) Get together with a group of music students to create a petition, sign it, and do the following with it: Present it to the Board of Trustees; present it to the President, send it, with an explanatory letter, to local media outlets. Send a letter to the editor of the Times-Standard.

If the Board and the administration receive no feedback from the community about this decision, it is likely to stand indefinitely. If enough people express displeasure about this decision, they may reconsider.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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Freelance photographer and writer, Arts and Entertainment editor from 1997 to 2013.

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