We sincerely hope we’re wrong about the impression Riverside-Brookfield High School is leaving with its decision to scuttle its summer band program and with it, the marching band’s appearances in two local July 4 parades.
Because the immediate impression is one of spite.
As it turns out, notification to parade organizers in Brookfield and Riverside that the band would not be participating this year amounts to the first official cuts in the 2011-12 budget at RB. That decision is not final, apparently, and could be reversed by the school board at its May 17 meeting. We hope reversing direction is on the agenda.
It’s not just that having the high school marching band participating in the parade is a cherished community tradition, one that fosters unity and pride in the school district. It also appears to make no financial sense whatsoever.
According to the district’s interim superintendent, it costs $800 to operate the summer marching band program, whose main purpose is to participate in the July 4 parades. OK, 800 bucks is 800 bucks.
Except for the fact that both Riverside and Brookfield actually pay the district for the band to participate in the parades – to the tune of about $800. Now, it’s true that Brookfield has cut its offering to $300 for the 2011 parade. So that means we’re cutting the summer program over $100? Really?
That’s where the appearance of spite comes in. If a program costs the district nothing, or close to nothing, we’d like to hear some other plausible explanation for taking the band out of two perennial public celebrations.
Back before April’s vote on the district’s proposed tax increase, we suggested that in the event the tax hike lost (and it did, overwhelmingly) the district needed to look in the mirror and find creative ways to preserve as much of the experience and programming at RB as possible while officials crafted another go at the polls.
And the first thing coming over the horizon is cutting a summer program that appears to have no impact on the district’s budget. That wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. The district can’t afford to come off as looking punitive in light of April’s vote.
There’s still plenty of time to change this decision. May 17 would be the time to do it.
Remember to plan
About eight months ago, the Riverside village board huddled to kick around the possibility of thinking big with regard to housing its recreation department and making Centennial Park a center for tourism.
With the opening of a water tower exhibit in the park’s west well house and the dream of re-opening the tower’s observation deck back on the radar, we’d encourage the board to revisit those subjects.
Obviously, village officials are busy trying to make their current budgets work while praying the state doesn’t make it any more difficult by taking away critical shared tax funding.
But it’s never a bad time to plan for a time when things might not be so bleak.