Band Boosters burnish excellence traditionPublished 10:05am Thursday, April 26, 2012
In shaking off the temptation to whine, wallow or lash out with threats, Edwardsburg band parents specifically and students and involved citizens in general set an enviable example for other districts coping with budget crises.
Allowing themselves only April 17 for shocked sentiment at the proposed reduction of Co-Director Spencer White, Band Boosters regrouped and by Monday night’s meeting were well down the road to allying themselves as partners with the school board, intent on “pioneering creative solutions.”
They proposed several, from charging nominal fees for Performing Arts Center concerts to exploring ways Lakeshore built a very successful three-director program.
A core group of boosters each tackled a different element so within 15 minutes the board heard a comprehensive, fact-based analysis of fine arts being essential to a well-rounded curriculum and effective in engaging students.
Robert Kowalewski, who trains financial advisers for a living, stressed, “Pulling together to help a friend solve a problem is what we’re talking about. We are not your adversaries … and understand difficult decisions must be made. Work with us and allow us to work with you to maintain the academic excellence we have worked so hard to develop.”
Edwardsburg Public Schools prides itself on its “bottom-up” budget, where managers recommend to the board, with a $3 million deficit closed by half through concessions and cuts, including a half-time business teacher and reducing two district librarians to one.
One ominous trend is kindergarten class size: 213, 2008; 216, 2009; 203, 2010; 193, 2011; and 150, 2012, with 41 there by choice.
With a potential loss of $7,000 in state aid per student, the smallest kindergarten roundup in Supt. Sherman Ostrander’s 18-year tenure parallels a statewide downturn expected to last four years because of families leaving Michigan and having fewer children.
Numbers like those make for the difficult decisions. But the board Monday received praise in equal measure for prudence, which put Edwardsburg in a strong financial position.
We believe that an attitude of action by involved citizens to be part of the solution instead of prolonging the problem, band backers bolster their likelihood for success.
This editorial represents the views of the editorial board.