Iowa City Music Auxiliary


Stephen Murley Responds to Formal Complaint

June 10, 2014
Read the full response to the formal complaint submitted to the ICCSD concerning cuts to Music Education programs in our schools.

Music Education in Our Public Schools is Vital - Join in the Chorus at the ICCSD board meeting on Tuesday, June 10th, 6:00pm

June 9, 2014, by Chad Slater-Scott

Music is the mathematical genius of millennia of melodic and rhythmic evolution. It's a common language to communicate emotion, values, and mutual understanding. It's the creative expressions of history, cultures, philosophies and metaphysical exploration. Music is storytelling and Music Education is the vehicle that allows societies to communicate the story of music to our children.

At the center of everyday life, music helps shape our lives. The athlete jams the headphones to motivate for the big game. The scientist listens to Jazz to clear the mind for new ideas to form. The philosopher dials up a Bach concerto for inspiration. The dancer expresses movement in harmony with song. The mathematician learned the violin at a very young age and still loves to play. English, math, physics, language, philosophy, sports, art, dance, chemistry and history are paramount to education. Let’s not forget; music is the language that binds these disciplines and people together.

Please add your voice to the chorus in expressing concern that Music Education is threatened by budget cuts in the ICCSD. It is critically important to preserve current levels of access to Music Education, especially for children whose parents can’t afford private lessons. If you agree with this premise, please let the ICCSD board and administration members know that any cuts to music programs in our public school system are unacceptable. Join our community this Tuesday, June 10th, 6:00pm at the ICCSD board meeting to show your support.

Formal Complaint Concerning ICCSD Budget Cuts

Thank you to those who supported the formal complaint to Superintendent Murley. It was sent with 118 signatures.

May 22, 2014

Dear Superintendent Murley,

We are writing to lodge a formal complaint against the ICCSD regarding the recent budget cutting process. On April 8, 2014, the school board members were given the FY2015 Budget, including $3.62 million in cuts, only 2 hours before the meeting in which they had to vote to accept the budget; only one week before having to certify the budget with the state. There was no time to digest and fully understand what was included in the budget cuts or how the budget cuts would impact instructional quality. Past practice had administration offer budget cut options to the board to vote upon and certainly more time to consider the budget and any included cuts. At the April 8, 2014 meeting, the board president told the public that the board was only voting on the budget itself, and not approving the cuts. At the May 13, 2014 board meeting, the board was clearly confused as to whether they had actually voted to accept the cuts as well. The FY2015 Budget and included Budget Cuts:

  • Were presented without any time for the School Board, (or community) to fully understand their effects.
  • Were developed without appropriate transparency and input from faculty and staff, the school board and the community at large.
  • Forced the reassignment of many teachers to positions in which they have no experience, expertise, training or interest, subsequently putting our students at risk.
  • Were developed without a clear understanding of their effect on student achievement, school quality and test scores, and does not include any instrument for measuring these effects in the future.
  • Have a disproportionally negative affect on FRL, low socio-economic, and minority students.
  • Negatively affects the implementation of the District’s Fine Arts Policy.
  • Have had a devastating effect on faculty and staff morale throughout the district.
  • Includes at least one cut (Jr. High General Music) which is against Iowa Code.
  • Set up unrealistic staffing assignments in areas such as elementary orchestra and band.
  • Will have negative effects on equity and accessibility to many of the cut programs. and
  • Will directly affect students and cause profound harm to their education

We respectfully request the FY2015 Budget Cuts be revisited and revised. We wish for cuts to be farther away from our children. We also request a full and effective plan be developed by which all budget cuts are implemented minimizing to the greatest extent the impact ANY cuts have on any child in the district.

We look forward to hearing from you based on this complaint.


Music Education Messages For Communication with Administation, School Board, and the Greater Community

Use one or more of the following points when writing or calling school board members, writing OpEd pieces for local newspapers, or speaking at the upcoming school board meeting on May 13th at 6:00.  

  1. Obvious Disproportionality: Band and Orchestra cuts are 12% of the total $3.6M proposed budget cuts. Cuts to music education are greater than cuts to any other area or program. These cuts represent 67% of all cuts being made at the elementary level.
  2. Lack of Transparency: While the administration was open about the need for cuts and the current budget situation, the process for developing the cuts did not include faculty and staff.
  3. Undermined Success of the Fine Arts Board Policy: Passed this past fall, the Fine Arts Board Policy requires the documented increase in participation in arts programs by students from the subgroup in poverty. The proposed cuts undermine the success of this policy.
  4. Drop in Music Participation: At the current level, these cuts will result in fewer students successfully taking advantage of music education opportunities.
  5. Increase in Teacher to Student Ratios Resulting in Decreased Program Quality: Elementary Band and Orchestra teacher to student ratios will increase from 1/120 to 1/160 under the current proposed cuts. Typically program quality decreases as the number of students per teacher increases.
  6. Increase in Travel Time for Traveling Teachers: 2 Orchestra teachers and 5 Band teachers teaching FTE will teach 1200 students in 19 different elementary schools covering 133 square miles. Is this physically possible?
  7. Increase in Group Lesson Size: Increased group lesson size will greatly impact students’ experience. Not only will each student receive less individualized attention, the lesson space may be cramped and uncomfortable or not realistic for the number of students.
  8. Decrease in Child-Centered Focus: If students are central to all decisions made by the school district, then budget cuts are made away from the students and not in their everyday educational experience. The results of these proposed budget cuts are creating staff upheaval which in turn greatly diminishes the quality of our schools.
  9. Vulnerable Students: Our most vulnerable students and their families need consistency, highly-qualified staff, and a place at the budget cutting table. The current plan is creating inconsistent learning environments, placing highly qualified music staff in positions they are not highly qualified for, and not creating a space for feedback from these families.
  10. Decrease in Contact Time: Band and Orchestra students receive one school lesson per week. This contact time is the minimal amount which in turn ensures success in learning to play an instrument. Many districts maintain a contact schedule of increased frequency. The proposed music cuts will decrease contact time and thereby decrease student success rate.

Proposed ICCSD Budget Cuts Would Affect School Music Programs

April 9th, 2014

The Iowa City Music Auxiliary opposes any district changes to music education, either classroom or performance, which will decrease the number of students involved in music education and the length of time students are able to participate in music performance ensembles.

At this time we are proud of our statistics:

The many accolades received by the students of the ICCSD Music Program are a direct reflection of the quality of the program, it's instructors and the support of the community. City and West high have both been designated Grammy Signature Gold Schools.

Our elementary band and orchestra programs are already bare bones. Students only receive one group lesson and one large group rehearsal a week.

Cutting a year of the orchestra program is not a "budget adjustment" but rather devastating program cut. Approx. 450 students participate in the 4th grade orchestra program.

Numerous scientific studies show the correlation between participation in music and increased student creativity and innovation, better social skills, better school attendance, better academic performance, standardized test performance and overall quality of life.

Cutting the music program flies in the face of the ICCSD Fine Arts Policy adopted by the school board in December, which states, "On average, the number and percent of students from the sub group of poverty will increase in voluntary participation in one or more of the arts forms."

Music education is not an enrichment activity only for those that can afford it.

We urge the ICCSD School Board to take 4th grade orchestra off the table.

We need your help to spread the word!

Share this page on Facebook with your friends and family in the community urging them to reach out to school board members, administrators, teachers and other community members and let them know how you feel. 


We encourage you to reach out to Iowa City School Board Members and let them know how you feel.

If you'd like to learn more about how music can play an important part in a student's educational success, visit our new Current Research - Music & Educational Development page.


Position Statement Regarding Semesters vs. Trimesters

We the board members of the Iowa City Music Auxiliary—a voluntary parent organization supporting the music programs in the Iowa City Community School District—believe all students benefit throughout their lifetime from the pursuit of learning, creating, performing, and sharing music.

At this time a large percentage of students in our district participate in curricular music classes at the junior high and high school level. This level is excellent, commendable, and note-worthy at the local, state, and national level.

Therefore it is our position that it is in the best interest of the significant number of students pursuing music education in the Iowa City Community School District that the trimester system continue as is. Specifically we support the trimester system because of these concerns with the proposed semester system:


Donor Inserts at Music Events

Every year, we print donor inserts that get put into the music programs for all school music events. In those inserts, we list our supporters (unless requested as anonymous) based on the level of the donation we received from the donor. Typically, we update this 2 times every year. We make every effort to ensure that each insert reflects all of our donors at the time that it is printed. For logistical reasons, we need to print these inserts in large batches, so if your donation arrived after the date indicated on the insert, you would not be listed.

Click here to view the most current insert that should be in the music programs at upcoming concerts (the current insert only includes donations that were entered into our database as of 1/28/2014)

We have also implemented an online version of our donor list that is more up-to-date than the printed insert. If you think your name should be on the list and it isn't, please let us know and be patient with us while we go back through our records to ensure you are on the list.

We appreciate the continued support from all of our community members.


The Iowa City Music Auxiliary would like to thank everyone in the entire Iowa City, North Liberty and Coralville area that came out to support the Iowa City Music Auxiliary at our annual car wash on Saturday, October 12, 2013.
The car wash is our only fundraising event of the year.  Together with the help of the districts performance directors, countless parents and students we spent the day washing cars at 6 locations throughout the entire community.
We’d like to thank all who participated in supporting the Music Auxiliary and the performance music programs, especially the businesses that hosted the event;  HyVee Food Stores in Iowa City on North Dodge and 1st Avenue; Sherwin-Williams on Highway 6 East in Iowa City; Two Rivers Bank and Trust in Coralville; and The University of Iowa Community Credit Unions on Mormon Trek Blvd. and West Penn St. in North Liberty.  Their support contributes to the wonderful performance music programs we have in our schools. 

Formed in 1934, the Iowa City Music Auxiliary (ICMA) is a voluntary parent organization dedicated to the support and enrichment of all performance music programs in the Iowa City Community School District from elementary through high school. In the words of one of the district's Music Directors, the ICMA “touches the lives of every single Band, Choir, and Orchestra student in the district” by funding technology in the classroom, transportation costs to events and enrichment activities.

Upcoming Events 2013-2014