Hundreds of Campolindo High School music students and parents plan to attend tonight's Acalanes high school district board meeting to protest the layoffs of their band and choral directors.

The layoffs are not on the agenda nor are any other budget cuts -- those were approved two weeks ago. Only one student spoke at the meeting to oppose them.

That was before Campolindo's students and parents realized that the music teachers to be laid off would come from their school, where the band and choral directors have the shortest tenures with the district.

"We weren't really being attentive and thinking 'How is this going to affect me specifically?'" said Randi Pines, a member of the school's instrumental music boosters.

The district issued layoff notices to the equivalent of nearly nine full-time teachers, including English, art, music and drama instructors, to help close a $2.5 million budget shortfall created by state education budget cuts. The governor's proposed budget slashes education spending by $4.5 billion next year.

Now that the laid-off teachers have names and faces, students and parents have rallied in support of band teacher Harvey Benstein and choral teacher Stacey Kikkawa.

"Harvey has been a great leader and teacher," Pines said. "For the program to continue to be successful, he needs to be at the helm."

Beyond attending the meeting tonight, students and parents have been sending letters to Sacramento to oppose the state cuts, said Marybeth Henningsen of the Campolindo Choral Music Education Fund.

The number of music classes at Campolindo is not being cut for budget reasons, said John Stockton, associate superintendent for curriculum and assessment. Based on enrollment, the district had more music teachers than it needed, he said. Teachers work for the district, not a particular school.

It is not yet clear who will teach music at Campolindo during the next school year, he said.

It is important to have consistent music teachers, said Campolindo junior Hillary Foss, a member of the school's chamber singers and concert choir.

"With choir teachers, it's a pretty personal thing," she said. "It's not like another class where you have to sit and listen to lectures. You have to bond with the teacher."

Choir students dealt with transition when Kikkawa arrived two years ago and do not want to go through it again, Foss said.

"We feel like we're finally getting settled," she said.

With some performances that combine theater, choir and band, it is important to have one teacher for all the classes, said percussionist Russell Kirmayer, a junior at Campolindo.

"If the program was run by multiple teachers, which it probably would be, then the teachers wouldn't really be dedicated to striving for excellence," he said.

Even without its current instructors, Campolindo might not end up sharing its teachers with another school, Stockton said. His office is still receiving new retirement notices and requests for leave that could reinstate some teachers who received layoff notices, he said.

"The picture is never clear until May," he said.

Reach Paul Thissen at 925-943-8163 or pthissen@bayareanewsgroup.com.

board meeting

The Governing Board of the Acalanes Union High School District will meet at 7:30 tonight in the library of the Del Valle campus, 1963 Tice Valley Blvd.., Walnut Creek.