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Board restores band position

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By Tom Wilmoth

Come January, a new band teacher will join the staff at Jefferson Forest High School and Forest Middle School.

    On a 4-3 vote, the Bedford County School Board agreed to add a full-time position to be split between the schools for the rest of the school year. Two teachers currently serve the band students at those schools, down from three last year. Band supporters from JF had been asking the board to restore the position for several months.
    Prior to the vote, Brad Cox, the JF band boosters president, again urged the board to provide funding for the position.
    “We are not asking for special treatment,” Cox stated, noting   that    even   with   the additional position the student-to-teacher ratio for the band program would be the highest among the three county zones.
    Cox said the band program has never stood for having its students just meet minimum standards.
    “Please don’t tell our students that achieving minimum standards is all they need to strive for,” Cox told the board.
    The position will be reevaluated at the school level next year. School board members stressed that decisions to cut specific positions at schools were made at the school level and not by the school board.
    School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch said class requests are being moved up this year to help with planning for the following year.
    “We were in new territory last year,” noted Board member Gary Hostutler about applying the new staffing standards at the school level.
    Hostutler, Mickey VanDerwerker, Shirley McCabe and Julie Bennington voted in favor of adding the position while Debbie Hoback, Dave Vaden and Brad Whorley voted against restoring the position. Board member Joy Wright was not at the meeting.
    During the board comments, Hoback asked why the school calendar listed the upcoming break as “winter break” rather than “Christmas” break. She said she didn’t remember voting to change that.  “I’m sure someone just typed it up and it ended up that way,” she said.
    Most of the board members agreed that “Christmas” break would be fine to use on the calendar. VanDerwerker noted that some students in the school system don’t celebrate Christmas.