Ellwood School Board Cuts Music Teacher Position

“I’m asking you to reconsider hiring an Elementary Music Teacher,” Renee Pitrelli, a parent at yesterday’s Board meeting, said. “It would be in the school district’s best interest even just part-time.”

Last night’s Ellwood City School Board meeting seemed to be much more mild than the one last month. The flood of forty parents concerned over the Elementary Music Teacher position who rushed May’s meeting dwindled down to six yesterday. With the budget to be decided, it seemed like most of the supporters had already given up hope before receiving the final decision.

For those of you who don’t know, Ray Falotico, Elementary Instrumental Music Teacher, recently retired following the 2012-2013 school year. With more and more budget cuts for the school district each year, the School Board proposed the idea of not filling Falotico’s position in order to save money.

District Principals came up with the idea to have current teachers, Laura Adams, Lee Caldwell and Julie Mutmansky, teach Falotico’s current classes. Frank Keally, Elementary Principal, also proposed a method to put each elementary band student in a homeroom. Keally planned to place each child in a room with three other children of their same instrument and proficiency, making it easier on the teachers for instruction.

A mixture of parents, students, and teachers spoke their concerns and the positive influences the music program has had on them and their children throughout the years. People seemed to not only be upset about the future of the elementary program but the high school as well. Taking teachers away from Lincoln has the ability to tear down the coveted music program the school has worked so hard to build.

The Board informed parents that they would vote on the final budget at the June 13 meeting, leaving all questions unanswered regarding the position.

By yesterday evening, the School Board Members’ minds were already made up. They unanimously approved the General Fund Budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year in the amount of $26,512,279.

Bob Stevenson, Board Member and Blue Band announcer, labeled this as the hardest decision he has ever had to make on the Board.

“I am very reluctantly voting yes,” Stevenson hesitated. “We need to monitor the music situation and if we need to hire a teacher, then we need to hire a teacher.”

Supporters were obviously not pleased by the decision but it was made with nothing left for them to do. Now, it becomes a waiting game to see if the Board and Principals’ plans are successful or not in the end. If not filling the positions fails, parents will definitely be adamant in the hiring of a new teacher.

“There are so many college graduates trained to step into Ray’s position,” Sandy Rectenwald said in a letter to the Board. “The band is a huge part of the reputation of our school district, we just need to add a fresh face.”

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