Jorgensen concerned about Hawaii band tripDecision tabled to gather additional information
At the Washington school board meeting Wednesday evening, school board members discussed the high school band’s request to travel to Hawaii in the fall of 2016.
In a letter to the school board, Washington High School band director Don Hughes asked for the approval for a full band trip to Hawaii. Hughes was unable to attend the school board meeting because he was rehearsing with the community theater Wednesday evening.
The trip would be a whole week and take place over Thanksgiving break. The cost of the trip per student would be $2,000, Hughes said. The band would perform at the Missouri and Arizona memorials as well as in a parade. He said performing alone at the memorials would make the trip worth it.
Washington Community School District (WCSD) Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said he had two concerns about the trip request.
His first concern was there was a request from the Washington High School choir to travel to New York City in the spring of 2015, Jorgensen said. This would cause an overlap in fundraising for students who are in both choir and band.
“My second concern goes back to my coaching days,” Jorgensen said. “If you had told me I was going to be missing some of my basketball players for a whole week over the Thanksgiving break, which is right at the start of the basketball season, that’s a critical time to have key players gone. I’m a little leery about the timing of the trip. I like to see these trips when they don’t conflict with other activities and that’s tough, too, because the seasons do overlap.”
Jorgensen said when he received the request from the high school band department he reached out to Bryce Smeins, athletic director and the boys’ high school basketball coach, to ask if he thought this was an issue. He hadn’t heard back from Smeins yet.
Board member Ericka Raber asked how far apart the choir trip would be from the band trip. WCSD business manager Jeff Dieleman said the trips would be a year and a half apart.
Raber then said her concern was the cost of the trip.
“It’s a lot of money and a lot of students and so I’m concerned about their ability and energy to raise that much,” she said. “To make sure who wants to go could go.”
Raber suggested Hughes comes to a school board meeting to talk about the trip.
“He was unable to make it tonight due to another conflict,” said Washington High School Principal Eric Buchholz. “Would he be willing to come and bring students to another board meeting, I’m sure he would, but I did visit with both the athletic director and the girls’ basketball coach and neither one of them had a conflict with it. The only game they thought it might interfere with is the Hall of Pride game, which is played that Saturday.”
Buchholz also said the athletic director and girls’ basketball coach were trying to think which players would be gone during that time period. Only one name came up for the girls’ basketball team and none on the boys’ basketball team.
“Well, maybe it’s not as big of a conflict as I thought,” Jorgensen said.
Board member Patty Roe said the one thing she noticed in the description Hughes gave about the Hawaii trip was that there wasn’t anything in the description requiring the band to be there at that time.
Raber agreed with Roe. She said she was wondering the same thing.
Jorgensen said his guess was the timing request was because the students would only miss two days of school. Dieleman said the band could also be performing in the Thanksgiving Day parade in Hawaii, too.
Roe said she appreciated the fact that Hughes was trying to lessen the amount of time the students would miss school but suggested maybe the trip could be done in the summer.
Board member Stephanie Ellingson said she agreed with Raber’s concerns. She said she would like to see more commitment from the students as far as what they would get out of going on the trip and how they would raise the money.
“I do think that for choir— for band—a trip every four years is important, and I think every kid should get to take advantage of a trip during their four-year career during high school, so I don’t want anyone to think I’m against the trip by any means,” Jorgensen said.
Ellingson said this was a good point that Jorgensen made. She would like to see a set schedule for trips for the choir and band department so students could plan ahead for fundraising.
Board member Heidi Vittetoe said there were other activities at the high school, such as the FFA, that took trips yearly. This gave the students an opportunity for new experiences and gave the activity growth potential. She said this would be another example of what this opportunity could do not only for the students but the school as well.
Board president Eric Turner asked the board to not make their minds up before hearing from the students and the band director.
“We want more information and we need to let them know what that information would be,” Turner said, “so we’re not just having them come in for some procedure.”
Jorgensen suggested he and Buchholz meet with Hughes and vocal music teacher Michael Jewell to learn more about the timing of the trips and what the students would gain going on them before making a decision. The board agreed with his suggestion and tabled making a decision about the Hawaii trip.
Other items covered at the school board meeting included
• approving a one-year contract extension with the teacher association;
• approving the purchase of 440 Samsung Series 3 Chromebooks and the Chrome OS Management License from Zones in the amount of $117,132.40, which was under what the technology department had budgeted for at $132,000, Jorgensen said;
• and approved a request from the Washington High School band for their annual trip to Indianapolis from Aug. 8 to 10 for the Drum Corp International Finals.
The next school board meeting is scheduled on Wednesday, July 9, at 7 p.m. in the Washington High School media center. A work session will be held before the meeting at 5:30 p.m.