We have had an incredible two years together with great performances both on and off the field. The jazz band has had unforgettable accomplishments and we have laughed and cried together while making some extraordinary music. In the past months, I have had discussions with individual parents in regards to the state of the Pinckney Bands program and its place and priority amongst the entire Pinckney Schools community. The full time equivalent or FTE’s given to the band instructors has drastically fallen in the past few years making it difficult or next to impossible to continue the same level of instruction and administration that the Pinckney Community has come to expect. When Lisa Dunn was hired 4 years ago as the High School Director of Bands, she was 1.0 FTE scheduled for the band program, with 2.0 FTE scheduled for the band program district wide. This was on par with other successful class A high school band programs in the area. Next year, as the schedule stands now, the High School Director of Bands position will be .4 FTE devoted to the band program (the other .6 will be scheduled to the choir program and general music). This will leave our program with a total of 1.4 FTE district wide. To give you a comparison, Fowlerville Schools (a class C school district) has 1.5 FTE district wide. The needs of the district to have one person run the high school bands, high school choir, and the middle school choir at a class A district is incredibility stressful if we are aiming to continue to build on the successes of the past. This constant state of change has put my family and myself in a state of concern as to the possibility of no longer having a full time position in Pinckney.
When I accepted the Director of Bands position at Pinckney High School it was truly my intention to retire at this position. The traditions and talent that resides within the Pinckney Community is amazing and inspiring, and being the Director of Bands has been exciting and rewarding. This past week while I was studying conducting at the MSU Conducting Symposium, I was given an opportunity to become the Director of Bands at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. After much discussion and consideration, my family and I have decided to accept this offer. The decision has nothing to do with the students that I have affectionately taught these past two years, rather the changing dynamics in the district and the likelihood of maintaining a full time position. This is not a decision I have taken lightly and I continue to worry about the state of the band program at Pinckney and its future. I truly believe that Pinckney Bands is one of the finest programs in the state and I will help out in anyway necessary to see that it meets its potential.
As an alumnus of Pinckney Bands, my concern lies with the state of the district and the manner in which the State of Michigan funds education. Attending regular Board of Education meetings should be a priority to those wishing to see this program grow. I do not blame administration in this situation, as they have been given a very difficult situation to deal with. I fear a revolving door of caring and talented directors leaving this community due to programmatic and financial issues. If you wish to see the program and district grow, please get involved in the discussion currently happening with education in the state and district levels. Education is a topic that needs passionate support.
I will miss working with this community and will be available to assist with the next director to the best of my abilities.
All the Best,