Boosters ‘short-circuited’ idea of making band at Lakeview extracurricular


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

CORTLAND

A request that the administration of Lakeview School District think “outside the box” for ways to offset future funding cuts led to a discussion of turning the high-school band into an extracurricular activity.

But that idea “may be dead in the water” and won’t happen anytime soon, school board member Larry Sherer told a large audience at Monday’s board of education meeting.

Board members and Superintendent Robert Wilson moved the meeting to the auditorium after learning the Lakeview Band Boosters mailed letters to band parents this weekend telling them to come to the meeting because the school district was thinking of moving marching band to an after-school activity.

Decisions on taking this step likely were to happen very quickly, the letter said.

The district already decided to reduce the number of band instructors from three to two for next school year, the letter said. And moving marching band to after school would mean students with jobs in the fall or a fall sport would have to choose between band, job and sport, the letter said.

Not so, Wilson said.

For one thing, no decision has been made to reduce the number of band directors. Secondly, the idea of moving band to after school is in its infancy, Wilson said.

“I meet weekly with principals to discuss ways to save money,” Wilson said of the economic challenges the district faces because of declining revenues. The district expects to lose $750,000 for next school year.

He comes up with ideas, and he talks with the school board about them, Wilson said.

Moving marching band to after school is one idea they discussed, “along with other ideas,” he said.

“This particular idea was short-circuited,” Wilson said of the band-booster letter. “I don’t know how it happened. I find it unusual and a little hurtful that I didn’t get a call. I would have come to a band meeting. We had no intention of ramming such a huge concept down your throat without your input.

“Have we talked about this idea? Yes. Are we going to vote on it tonight or next month? No,” Wilson said.

Donna Umbrazun, band boosters president, in a presentation to the board, said the boosters decided to act on the matter quickly because “changing a decision after it’s already been made is tough to do.”

She noted that she told the school administration last week, when she signed up to speak at the board meeting, what she planned to talk about.

Umbrazun said 24 percent of Lakeview High School students participate in marching band because people mean it when they call the band the “musical pride of Lakeview.”

Another school district not nearby saw its marching band participation drop from 184 students to 47 when it became an extracurricular activity, Umbrazun said.

Wilson noted that the discussion regarding marching band never included any reduction in the instrumental music program.

The marching band discussion came up because band classes in the middle of the day “does drive the whole school day” and requires an extra number of staff members to supervise lunch. If fewer teachers were supervising lunch, more teaching time would be available, Wilson said.

Wilson added that Lakeview and Howland are among the few area school districts that teach band during the school day.

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