Music programs on the rise at Alder


By Jane Beathard - Contributing Writer



Music programs like marching band and choir are growing more popular in Jonathan Alder Local Schools, creating greater demand for uniforms, instruments and staging, board of education members learned on Monday.

JA Music Boosters President Lucas Gutierrez said 372 students are participating in marching band this year — up from 249 in 2014.

“Kids are getting excited about band programs,” Gutierrez said.

Higher numbers create a need for more instruments and uniforms. Both are expensive, he added.

JA music boosters helped purchase 10 new band uniforms for the 2016-17 school year at a cost of $700 each. Another 40 are needed for next year and must be ordered seven months in advance. Only two companies in the United States produce uniforms and hold a virtual monopoly on the business, Gutierrez noted.

The club recently purchased two sousaphones at a cost of $6,000 each and an equipment trailer for $4,000. But new percussion instruments are needed for high school band members who plan to advance to college music programs.

In addition to band, participation in district vocal music programs increased over the last two years — especially in the junior high school. That participation created a need for risers, theatrical scenery and places to store the scenery. Boosters contributed $4,500 toward the purchase of choral risers for the junior high, Gutierrez said.

Club income last year was $22,000 — mostly earned from a concession stand. Gutierrez said the club is looking for additional income sources, including corporate sponsorships, tax deductible gifts and annual fundraisers to meet the growing financial demand.

Melissa Pollom, president of JA High School Athletic Boosters, said her organization earned $68,000 during the 2015-16 school year. Nearly half of that amount came from a Booster Bash fundraiser. A private company also donated $10,000 to the baseball team.

Pollom said the organization spent $35,000 for sports equipment and facility improvements. Another $16,000 went to team meals, travel, fees and miscellaneous expenses.

Both the music and athletic boosters award $500 scholarships annually.

Also on Monday, JA Treasurer Aaron Johnson reported the district’s financial picture continues to improve.

On June 30, the district held a cash balance of $3,978,691 — nearly double that of the previous fiscal year. Johnson said cash balances for the next five fiscal years will likely range from $3.6 million to $5.6 million.

In other routine meeting business on Monday, school board members:

• Increased the hourly wage for the district’s substitute custodians from $11.42 to $12.92.

• Approved a three-year contract with META Solutions for electrical service.

• Approved the 2016-17 coaches’ handbook.

• Scheduled a board work session for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3 at the high school.

• Heard Superintendent Gary Chapman say the district received 20 applications for the facilities and maintenance supervisor position that is now vacant. Chapman will bring a final candidate to the Nov. 14 board meeting.

• Thanked the Jonathan Alder Education Foundation for a $2,230 donation to construct a “GaGa Pit” on the playground at Canaan Middle School. GaGa is a form of dodgeball that originated in Israel. Canaan Principal Matt Keller said the pit provides students with another recreational option during recess.

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By Jane Beathard

Contributing Writer

Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Advocate.

Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Advocate.