Members of Hannibal’s school music community are upset over the possible elimination of the entire high school music program.
Hannibal’s high school band director, Shirley Terrinoni, says she was told Monday by Principal Brian Schmitt that he will recommend to the Board of Education that all high school music be eliminated, along with one of two art teachers.
“They’re targeting everything,” said Terrinoni, who was directing an evening practice of the upcoming high school play as she spoke to Oswego County Today.
“I’m definitely not making a recommendation,” said Schmitt. “We were asked by the board to show them what the school would look like if we had to cover all of the deficit with cuts.”
He, and the principals of Kenney Middle School and Fairley Elementary School, will outline that dire scenario at a board budget workshop Wednesday night.
Schmitt said that, in fact, he will tell board members that prior cuts have been too deep, and that core programs and the music program should have more staff, not less.
Nonetheless, the news of the brief meeting between Terrinoni and Schmitt rocketed through the Hannibal music community.
“If’ it’s on an early list, then it’s a thought,” said music booster club president Ed Carvey. “It’s on a list that says it may go.”
And it could. The district faces a deficit of nearly half a million dollars from a proposed state aid cut and routine or contracted increases. A massive tax increase would be required to keep programs and services where they are now.
Upstate and rural schools say the state aid cuts hurt poorer districts the most, as they have the least to lose and the least ability to make up deficits.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that schools should empty their reserve accounts to cover his cuts, but many poorer districts have already used reserve funds and were budgeting funds for next year, which will also be a difficult financial year.
Last year’s cuts caused the formation of a student-run group called SOS – Save Our Schools. The group lobbied state lawmakers and board members to preserve extracurricular activities.
Music program supporters are passing the word to begin the job of pressuring the board to save their program.
“We have a lot of students who get academic credits from music,” said Terrinoni. “We’re cutting core classes.”
[This article was updated to provide Mrs. Terrinoni’s proper title. She is not the music department facilitator. We apologize for the error.]