Canyons School District students may have to cut some electives

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jan 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 12:36:37-05

SANDY, Utah -- Students attending Canyons School District middle schools may have to cut electives such as band, theater and home economics to make room for state-mandated classes.

Hundreds of concerned parents, part of the included middle schools across Canyons School District, gathered at Tuesday's school board meeting.

These parents say they want to save their children's electives.

"If these kids can't get what they need in middle school, then they don't have the skills they need to do those classes in high school. And if they can't do it in high school, then they can't get the money and the resources and experience they need to pursue those arts maybe at a college level," said middle school parent Jeni Grant.

The district acknowledges this issue affects all eight middle schools - roughly 3,500 students.

"We have been very heartened by the input that we have received from parents—parents who are so invested in their children's education—and we have received input from people all across the district," said Canyons School District spokesperson Jeff Haney.

The two new mandatory classes added to the 6th and 8th grade curriculum by the Utah State Board of Education include a college and career awareness class and a digital literacy class.

The district says in order to make room for them in the schedule, electives will most likely need to be dropped.

"We need to realize that kids have different skills and we need to be able to develop those skills. Some kids, their biggest talent is music and if we don't start developing those they are never going to get anywhere and so its important to start at that age," said middle school parent Laurel Bennett

The district said the 450 students in the Dual Immersion Program will be most affected, because foreign language already counts as an elective, forcing some families to possibly choose between learning a foreign language and studying the arts.

"My daughter wants to be the next Lindsey Stirling, so she has to dance and she has to play violin and she also wants to speak French, which she points out even Lindsey Stirling can't do," said Dual Immersion parent Chad Smith.

[Editor's Note: This story was filed before the school district had a chance to speak or vote on the issue.]