Budget cuts prompt Shawnee Mission East music teacher to retire

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- A longtime metro area school music teacher is fed up and he's calling it quits.

The teacher said arts education has been getting the short end of the budget stick in public schools for years now and he's had enough.

Jon Lane has been the orchestra director at Shawnee Mission East for thirty years until now.

“The latest supplement contract I received was very controlling, locks us in a status quo with no way for teachers to have input for change,” said Lane.

That’s why he’s retiring. He said the cutbacks on the music and arts program has had a domino affect on all teachers. He said the new contract offered required more commitments with not enough support.

“They eliminate the music coordinator position and ask on to take these responsibilities. No extra time to do that, no extra money to do that,” he said.

In a letter to parents, he said “this contract has been written by a person that does not understand or respect the job music teachers do.”

Shawnee Mission Schools said it could not comment about the situation because it’s a personnel issue, but provided a statement:

The Shawnee Mission School District remains committed to fine and performing arts district wide and supports enhanced opportunities for students in these areas. In the interest of ensuring excellence within these programs, instructors and staff members must be willing to embrace and fulfill all of the professional responsibilities associated with their position. Unfortunately, this situation pertains to a personnel issue, so the district is unable to comment specifically. Mr. Lane has made a decision, and we respect his decision.

In the best interest of the students, Lane said he chose to retire, but it won’t be the end for his music career.

Lane said he understands some people might think this is all about money. But he said the heart of the problem is a lack of funding for the arts in the district. He said it is a pattern he's seen over the years, and not only because of Kansas' current budget crisis.