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PAM GARDNER: Don't let Purchase Line's music program suffer

on May 29, 2013 10:59 AM

I am writing as a concerned parent, taxpayer and supporter of quality education at Purchase Line High School.

Because of the retirement of Mr. William Pearce, who has been our band director for 35-plus years, our music/arts program is in jeopardy.

As is always the case, it seems, as soon as a teacher retires, the automatic response by the school board is to make cuts. By cuts, I mean not replacing retiring teachers.

The school board may be considering hiring a part-time band teacher (three days a week). They have suggested having our elementary band teacher work at both the elementary and high school. The rest of Mr. Pearce’s duties — which include marching band director, musical co-director, dinner theater director and fine arts chairman — apparently will be “farmed out” to who knows.

They want to put more work on the other teachers (with no pay increase). One of those teachers is the elementary music teacher and the other is our high school music teacher. Right now our music program is of the highest quality because of our teachers. We need to keep it the way it is. Maybe the school board can fool themselves into believing that nothing will change. In reality, everything would change, and not for the better.

Right now, our music/arts program is flourishing. We have 22 percent of our high school students participating in band and the arts. We are the largest band in the Heritage Conference. Our music/arts program is very important to our kids and community. For some, it is the only activity in which they are able to participate.

It is a proven fact that students get better grades, score higher on their SATs and go on to college because of exposure and education in music and the arts. This year, we have two senior students going on to pursue an education in music.

Not replacing Mr. Pearce with a full-time teacher would certainly diminish the quality of our program. We have many talented kids at Purchase Line. Much of their talent can be attributed to our dedicated music teachers. Cutting Mr. Pearce’s position to three days a week and expecting our other teachers to carry the load would cause our high-quality music department to suffer greatly.

Pam Gardner

Cherry Tree

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