Every Friday evening in July, since 1967, the Sousa Band Shell was filled with music performed by the PW Senior HS - Community Summer Concert Band. This year, the 39th year, those concerts will not be heard.
The Sousa Band Shell was built originally for the sole use of the HS - Community Band. The vision of the Band Shell was made a reality by the fund-raising effort of Ms. Gay Pearsall. George Christopher, the HS Band director at that time, worked with Ms. Pearsall and donated funds that he had been collecting from band concerts over the years.
Ok, well you may already know the history of the band shell but you may not know why the 2005 HS - Community Summer Band Concert schedule was canceled. Well, the technical answer is that the school budget was voted down on the revote and the school is on an austerity budget. Bottom line programs get cut.
This letter is not written to debate whether residents should have voted yes or no. Nor is this letter to chastise the residents for a lack of civic duty which was evident by the low voter turnout. Only 6,233 people voted out of 25,000 eligible voters.
This letter is to bring to light the vindictiveness of the school board. The Community Band expenses are minimal. Our expenses are for a portion of the custodial services needed to keep the school open for our 10 practice sessions (The band is not the only group using the school on those days) and a salary for our wonderful conductor. We also need to use the music and some limited instruments. The members of the band so desiring to perform inquired about other avenues for funds. We found alternative practice space, music sources and instruments (believe it or not the school would not allow use of the music and instruments even for a fee). We even found sources to pay the salary of our conductor. We were told that the conductor being an employee of the school district could not even on his own time participate in this alternative. Get this, the school budget request for the Community Band was only $2,060.
All members understand the school board has a legal responsibility to cut expenses. We all know art and music, unfortunately, are the first to go.
But not allowing the Community Band to continue serving the Town of Port Washington without expense to the school district makes no sense other than sheer spite to the residents. Why wasn't the Band allowed to use alternative funding?
I am sure you will all miss hearing the Community Band perform as much as we will miss playing. Please continue to support the Band Shell. Voice your disappointment to the school board and other influential officials. Join me in hoping and helping to see that more logical and less vindictive financial decisions are made for the next concert season.