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Big changes could be coming to the structure of the marching and concert bands at York Suburban High School if a proposal — intended to improve student participation and to alter the time commitment required by band members — is passed at the December board meeting.

Under the proposed changes, marching band would be pulled out of co-curricular (or school day) activities, becoming an extracurricular (or after school) activity instead, according to a report the district distributed at Monday night's school board meeting

The concert band would be yearlong and would remain co-curricular.

Separating the concert and marching bands would take pressure off students by making marching band a "showcase" band, reducing the number of practices, said district Superintendent Michele Merkle.

The report also recommends the district leave the competitive Cavalcade of Bands and participate in local showcase events that would not be competitive.

School board members said Monday they felt the competition and extra practice time stresses students.

Numbers down: The number of band participants has been decreasing, in part because of the time commitment and the stress, board members said.

Other districts have shown higher participation in both bands when the proposed structure is implemented, according to the report.

Merkle said school officials have sought information from other districts, gathering research about band structure changes.

Board member Lynne Leopold-Sharp expressed concern that students should have more time to prepare for the board's decision, as the proposed changes are to be presented to the board for discussion on Nov. 2, one day before being presented to marching and concert band students.

On Nov. 11, data and a proposal will be put before the district's Academic Standards Committee, and that committee will make its recommendation to the school board.

The final proposal is to be acted on at the board's Dec. 21 meeting, officials said.

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