Argus photo/JOHN EBY Petitions circulated by band students Kaylee Groulx, Cody Adkins and Katie Mcanarney collected 502 signatures opposing White’s layoff.

Archived Story

Band trying to avert pink slip

Published 8:05pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

After five days, band parents say they believe they can solve the proposed pink slip of Co-Director Spencer White in five weeks.
“We want to join you to pioneer a creative solution to preserve this position,” said Andrea Doll at the board of education’s meeting Monday night held at the Intermediate School to accommodate a large crowd. “(Band Boosters) is willing to be a leader. One option could be a nominal $3 fee for concerts at the PAC (Performing Arts Center). Ten concerts, two are jazz concerts with a 15 percent attendance rate. The other eight are much larger events and bring the 793-seat PAC to approximately 90 percent attendance. We can find an $18,000 funding source looking at those numbers. The band is rolling out three new funding opportunities. Our friends in Lakeshore have a phenomenal band and great success, plus an annual dinner and auction, which earned almost $9,000. They have 182 students and need three directors. Edwardsburg has 108. There are creative ways we can get there with all of us working together.”
Doll added it would be a shame to cut White with the “impending possibility” of Tom Crowner’s retirement in a few years.
“Having to bring someone in is really a program killer that could make or break the band,” Doll said.
“The proposed elimination of 50 percent of the band instructors in our schools has caused no small stir in our small town,” said Paula Brown, who pointed to  petitions circulated by fifth-graders Cody Adkins, percussion; Katie Mcanarney, clarinet; and Kaylee Groulx, flute. They gathered 502 signatures.
“Pulling together to help a friend solve a problem is what we’re talking about,” said Robert Kowalewski. “We are not your adversaries.”
Carla Keirnan said the band program embodies the district slogan, “A Tradition of Excellence,” for 400 students.
Mark Makielski said sparing White is estimated to cost $65,000 in salary and benefits. Advertising a strong band program through Schools of Choice could add eight students, or “enough to pay the director’s salary.”
Vice President Doug Stickney, who conducted the meeting in the absence of President Birdella Holdread, said, “We’re not going to make any decision until we know what our funding is from the state — hopefully, by the end of May. We don’t have to adopt the final budget until the end of June.
“We want the same thing you do, a quality education for every student. That’s why we’re striving to maintain all programs in academics, athletics and fine arts.”
Stickney, a school board member since 1986, added, “Contact your state legislators. They are not funding education at the level needed to provide quality for Michigan students. Our foundation has been cut by $470 per student. We’ve got 2,700 students. That’s quite a hit to our budget.”

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