Community voices support of BR arts
BY STACI WILSON
Members of theBlue Ridgecommunity turned out Monday to show their support of the school music and drama programs at the board of education meeting.
Several advisory positions slated to be removed July 1 from the Schedule B were the source of confusion for some attendees.
Some of the positions removed, such as the yearbook and newspaper advisers, were done so because the work will be handled in a daily high school class.
Band and chorus directors for the three schools will be paid at an hourly rate, instead of a flat-rate $4,500 advisory stipend.
Ken Carey, ofNew Milford, said he did not want to see cuts to the band program in any way.
In support of the school’s music department, David Berg, ofJackson, said, “I’m worried (my son) gets a balanced education.”
Student board rep Kevin McCarey asked if there was a cap on hours the band and chorus teachers could work at the hourly rate.
Bonner said that there was no cap but there would be fiscal responsibility.
Parents and students also questioned the board about recent budget decisions that eliminated the middle school drama club, creating a single club of students in grades 6-12 for the upcoming school year.
Ally Phillips, a junior atBlue Ridge, said she understood the district was facing drastic budget cuts but advocated on behalf of continuing a separate middle school drama program.
Phillips said, “We’re willing to fundraise; we are willing to do anything.”
Board president Laurie Bonner said she was encouraged Phillips mentioned fundraising. “The school board is looking for people to step up. Not one of us wants to cut it. If you raise the money to put on a show, the board will be 100 percent behind you,” she said.
One district parent said she was impressed by Phillips’ remarks. “There are studies that show scores are enhanced by taking part in those activities,” she said.
Two middle school students involved in the theater productions also spoke.
Seventh grader Kayla Raub said being in a middle school production gave her the opportunity to play a lead role on stage. “People like me never get that opportunity,” she said.
Skylar Secord, also aBlue Ridgeseventh grader, said middle school is the transition years.
“Most middle school students are not mature enough to handle a high school production,” she said.
She also spoke of the value middle school theater has at the high school level. “No one will be experience enough or care enough. So it won’t matter,” she said.
Board member Chris Whitney said if people fundraise and earmark the money for Middle School Drama, “and it happens,” she said.
Bonner also agreed fundraising could help to keep programs.
The cost saved by the district by combining Middle and High School Drama Clubs is $4,500 plus the cost of productions rights and royalites.
High School band director Vincent LoRusso said, “The point of everyone here is to show the board that there is community support.”
In other business, the board voted to approve the Homestead/Farmstead Exclusion for the 2012 year in the amount of $8,074.
The board also gave its approval of installment payments for all 2012 real estate tax bills.
The next board workshop and business meeting will be held on Monday, June 25 at7:30 p.m.Meetings are held in the school cafeteria.