Director’s Comments
April 23rd, 2020
 
The latest in a long series of disappointments was announced earlier this week, as the decision to keep schools closed until the end of the school year became a reality.  I’ve sensed this would be the way this would go since our spring break week, but hoped I would be wrong.
 
NTI will continue until our last day of instruction, currently slated to be May 27th.  OCBE will meet on Monday and will certainly discuss new information from the state Department of Education related to NTI and required instructional hours provided.  Any adjustments will be announced officially after the board has done their deliberation, but I am confident we won’t extend beyond the 27th.
 
Placement auditions for the two concert bands next year will not take place.  Logistics and the time frame simply won’t allow enough time, and the point is to hear the incoming kids play “live”—I actually know only a handful of them, and even at that, very little about their musical development.  After discussing the situation with Mr. Steedly, we agreed that upperclassmen will be assigned to 7th period band, percussionists to Percussion Tech, and all incoming students to 6th period band.  The 6th period band will be augmented by performers from the 7th period band to address any instrumentation inequalities for public performances and concert festivals.  That’s the best we can do under the current restrictions.
 
The program budget has been submitted to the school bookkeeper along with our booster fundraising requests.  My deadline was April 15, and I just barely managed to meet it.  The budget itself maintains all existing program priorities, but some are at a reduced level of funding.  The result is a reduction in band fees from $400.00 in 2019-20 to $375.00 in 2020-21; not a lot, but in a direction that I think they need to go when many of our families may well be hurting financially for a while recovering from what we’ve been dealing with.  I also recommended that the participation portion of the fee structure ($160.00) be waived for the second/third child enrolled in the program.  The siblings would be responsible for only $215.00 each (camp, transportation, uniform, and instructional materials fees).  The booster fundraising obligation has not been increased to make up for any of the reduction in fees.  If we are fortunate enough to do well on our fundraising efforts, we can try and address making up for the cuts toward the end of the spring semester.  If not, we’ll still provide a good level of support for our kids and their band experience.
 
Summer program activities are still very much a question mark.  We will need to organize a “curbside” turn in for concert band equipment the students have at home and their practice folders/music toward the end of instruction, and figure out a way to get marching band horns out to those who need them.  This needs to be coordinated with Conrad Music, so the concert instruments can be properly cleaned and maintenance work done by the time we get back to school in August (wishful thinking?)
 
Plan now to assume we’ll be allowed to have our summer rehearsals beginning on July 6 on Monday and Thursday nights; Plan now that we’ll be allowed to have summer band camp from July 27-31 here at school.  If we’re not allowed to do these things, we will explore any available options (sectionals instead of full band, playing wind instruments in PPE…).  If there are no options, we’ll reduce/refund camp fees and hit the ground running with sectional coaches once school begins, and do the best we can.
 
I am scheduled to have a conversation with our superintendent about major trips tomorrow morning.  After speaking with Mr. Roth at length about this, we will be best advised to hold off, possibly until the end of the summer, to begin work on any major travel for the spring of 2021.  We will have to come to a decision about a closer to home, shorter in length trip to make it both affordable and achievable in a reduced time frame for the payment schedule and any fundraising directed toward supporting a trip.
EOMS director interviews began this afternoon; over 30 applicants placed materials with OCBE for consideration.  I offered to assist with anything the administrators there wished; as a happy result, I have been involved in the process of finding someone to fill the position almost from the beginning.  It will take several days to work through, but I’m confident there are qualified and capable people in the pool of folks invited to interview.  This is an extremely important position in terms of the potential impact on two high school programs, and we need to get it “right” for the long term. 
 
Awards banquet alternatives: I’m all “ears” on this, but whatever we end up doing will need to pass muster with whatever guidelines all school groups will be expected to follow on gatherings.  I’ve submitted proofs for senior award plaques, assembled thumb drives for the seniors’ recording compilation, ordered a gross of chevrons, and am preparing to print certificates for all band members.  I’ve even given some thought to personalizing the compilations with a personal video from me for each of the seniors (gotta get a haircut first). 
 
We just may have to hand them all out at our instrument check in “curbside” soiree…sad but at this point, likely.
 
Thanks for all you do in support of this program!  I can assure you that our success (past and future) is a direct result of your commitment and hard work backing what we do.