A copy of an Internet petition titled Save The Music in Tamaqua has been formally presented to the Tamaqua Area School District in the hope of preventing what are deemed potentially damaging cuts to the district's musical programs.
On Tuesday night, Heather Hannon, president of the Tamaqua Area Band Booster Association, presented the school board with the on-line petition, along with 556 signatures, imploring the district not to make changes to its music program.
The petition suggested that the number of music teachers in the district could be cut from 4.5 to 4, which would reduce the number of hours available for instrumental instruction for students, thus adversely affecting the Raider Band and other musical programs.
Superintendent Carol Makuta said the district has been looking at options for the program to reduce travel time between schools. With Rush Elementary becoming a Kindergarten and grade one Learning Center, for example, fourth and fifth grade band instruction would no longer be necessary for that building.
"We believe that all of our music courses will not be impacted," said Makuta. "We don't see anyone wanting private instrumental instruction being denied."
High School Principal RuthAnn Gardiner noted that Band Director John Potlunas has 25 periods a week available for instrumental instruction and can take four students an hour, providing up to 100 lessons a week. 95 students are currently taking music lessons. "We see this as growth," said Gardiner.
Lauren Ward, a senior and band member, said it can often be a question of availabilty instead of numbers; because of scheduling, not all students looking for lessons can be accomodated during certain periods, particulary around lunchtime.
Both Makuta and Assistant Superintendant Raymond J. Kinder noted that scheduling conflicts can occur and often can't be avoided, meaning the student may have to make choices as the courses on which they need to focus.
Band parent Angela Gursky said there has been a perception that the administration does not support the music program. "If that's a matter of misconception of an entire community, you need to straighten that out," she stressed.
"We are not attacking you," said Dan Metzger, another band parent. "We set up this petition to let you know public opinion. We think that's a positive way to use the Internet. In this country, I hope public opinion still counts for something."