A decision by Carthage school administration to end the fifth grade band program in favor of more instructional time is coming under fire from parents in the Carthage Band Boosters.

A decision by Carthage school administration to end the fifth grade band program in favor of more instructional time is coming under fire from parents in the Carthage Band Boosters.
Trent Walker, acting president of the Carthage Band Boosters, read a letter to the Carthage R-9 Board of Education on Monday asking the Board to look at how the administration made its decision and reinstate the program, or ask administration to provide more time for the sixth grade band to meet in the coming school year.
“This decision by the administration took many parents by surprise,” Walker said, reading a letter from the Boosters. “Before a decision of this significance was made, we believe there should have been some background given as to  why this possibility was being considered and even a forum to allow for open dialogue between administration and parents to express their concerns. In addition, while the directors were initially told what was being considered, they were not a part of the final decision as it is now.”
In the letter from the Band Boosters, Walker said the lack of a fifth grade band program will mean fewer students taking band with consequences in the junior high and high school as well.
Walker said band directors had asked that, if the fifth grade band was elimintated, the sixth grade band be increased to every school day.
“This would allow the directors time to instill the repetition and discipline needed in order for the students to become proficient with their instruments and ready to move into the more complex music experience in seventh grade band,” Walker said. “In the end, they did not get anything they wanted, with sixth grade band being reduced to two days per week during the fall semester.”
The sixth grade band program would be three days a week in the Spring semester, officials said.
During the discussion at the meeting, Carthage Superintendent Mark Baker said the decision to eliminate the fifth grade band was made to increase the amount of instruction time available for “mandated courses.”
“So we looked at the mandated courses or hours that we have to have compared to the minutes that we as a school district assign to certain subjects,” Baker said. “So we looked at the overall schedule and determined that the fifth grade band program was something that's not required, so due to moving that to a different schedule, it allowed us to add instructional time to tier two or tier three instruction.”
Walker, in the letter, said parents did not understand why the lack of instructional time was being “laid at the feet of the band program.”
Board President Tony Diggs said the board would take the Boosters' letter under advisement, and Superintendent Baker would respond to the letter when he received a copy of it.