Weather Forecast


Sixth-grade band off the chopping block

Sixth-grade band in Two Harbors and Silver Bay is safe for another year.

The instructor's position was slated to be cut at Tuesday's School Board meeting in the name of budget reductions, but after an appeal from a community member and another from a teacher, the board ultimately decided to keep the position.

That prompted two rounds of applause from the large crowd.

Silver Bay parent Steve Robertson spoke in favor of keeping the band, saying the music program has already taken many hits over the years.

"You're looking at a program that's already been cut pretty drastically," he said.

He added that cutting the first year of band instruction would cause a ripple effect that would reduce the quality of the entire program.

Two Harbors High School Band Instructor David Haaversen said if the sixth-grade band were cut, a few years down the road the high school program would be "one of the best junior high bands in the state."

"We're talking about setting ourselves up for real trouble," he added.

The board voted unanimously to keep the program.

The social studies program at William Kelley High School wasn't so lucky. The board voted to eliminate one full-time social studies position at the school, despite teacher Ward Kaiser's appeals. Kaiser told the board that with new state standards being implemented, it was not the right time to transfer the entire social studies program to one teacher.

"I feel right now, when we're implementing these's a time when we still need to have two sections to meet the needs of these students," Kaiser said.

He currently teaches two ninth-grade sections of American history and said with only one teacher, these sections would be merged, resulting in a 45-student class.

"We are going to have fairly large class sizes (if one teacher is cut)," he said, noting, "One of the things that's attractive about Silver Bay is the small class sizes."

The board ultimately voted for the reduction after much discussion. William Kelley Principal Joe Nicklay said there could possibly be some shuffling among staff to add a second section to avoid the 45-student class. Superintendent Bill Crandall assured the board that the second social studies teacher at WKHS would not have to be cut; instead, rearranging positions coupled with impending retirements would retain the staff member.

The board also approved a .5 full time equivalent reduction in early childhood special education, a .5 FTE reduction each in English and physical education at Two Harbors High School, a 1 FTE additional William Kelley Elementary and a 1.17 FTE addition at Minnehaha Elementary. The additions will ensure no split classes, board member Leo Babeu said.

"Under this scenario, we will not be having split sections in either school," Babeu informed the board and public.

Nicklay thanked the school board for making the difficult decisions necessary to balance the budget.

"It's not an easy place to be in, but we do appreciate the work you do for us," Nicklay said.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141