The Franklin County High School council voted Tuesday to fund a full-time band director position next year, a decision that triggered little optimism in the parents who attended the meeting.
That’s because they fear the current band director won’t return to the classroom next fall.
Director Dave Shelton’s salary is now paid for at the district level, as part of a compromise last April between the then cash-strapped school council and the Board of Education. The arrangement was planned for one year only.
Now funding shifts back to FCHS, and Principal Sharon Collett says that makes the band director a new job that must be posted. She told council members earlier this month that the school would advertise the vacancy and accept applications.
She reiterated that statement Tuesday, saying she planned to contact Central Office to post the school’s new positions, which also include two intervention teachers in reading and math.
Shelton told The State Journal that he wants to return to FCHS next year, but won’t reapply for a job he already holds. He notified band students of his intentions last week.
“I applied for this job four years ago, and I performed my duties honorably and built a band program of which we can be proud,” said Shelton, who won’t have tenure until next fall.
Band parent Gary Hammons was one of five parents who attended Tuesday’s meeting, four of them with kids in the band program.
Hammons brought with him a sign that detailed some of the band’s recent accomplishments, including eight members selected for All-State Band honors.
He said he’s “very pleased” the school council opted to fund a full-time band director, but parents are now concerned that Shelton won’t be back.
“We’d prefer to stick with the current leadership,” Hammons said. “We’re thankful we have a full-time band director, but staffing is our next concern.”
Franklin County Public Schools Superintendent Harrie Buecker told The State Journal this morning that the school board attorney is looking into the matter of which positions need to be posted.
The council voted in March 2011 to reduce the band director and a science teacher to part-time teaching positions due to budget cuts, prompting a swift backlash from students, parents, alumni and music education supporters.
The council then asked the school board to “find the money to reinstate the one position.” The board agreed to fund the band director’s salary for one year as a district-wide employee.
Principals from another eight of the district’s 11 schools then asked for additional positions too, and the board complied at an estimated cost of $570,000 from federal money intended to save teaching jobs.
That funding was temporary, and now some schools are facing staffing cuts for the upcoming school year. Councils are meeting throughout the month to decide what stays and what goes based on personnel allocations from Central Office.
FCHS is in a better position this year. Central Office allocated the school an additional 3.5 positions because of enrollment growth.
Members voted unanimously earlier this month to add two positions, one each for reading and math interventions for struggling students. They put their remaining decisions on hold to give council members a chance to seek feedback from teachers and parents.
The council voted 5-1 Tuesday to fund the full-time band director position and increase the athletic director to full time.
Council member Rebecca Bright voted against the proposal, saying she had concerns about adding an athletic position when the school has pressing academic needs.
Collett said FCHS is adding three new sports next year – bowling, bass fishing and archery – and needs additional support in that area.
Tracy Spickard now splits her time between her role as athletic director and business teacher. Collett said Spickard will continue to oversee the school bank.