District reallocating music department duties

By: 
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

The restructuring of the St. Marys Area Middle School Music Department was a popular topic of discussion during yesterday’s meeting of the St. Marys Area School District Board of School Directors.
Students, parents and alumni voiced their concerns about potential negative changes proposed for the department, specifically regarding staffing reassignments.
Superintendent Brian Toth attempted to clear up any false rumors during Monday’s board meeting.
Following the recent retirement of St. Marys Area Middle School Music Director Ed Schwer, the district has opted to allocate those duties to Chris Gankosky, the current high school music director.
Toth emphasized no music program is being eliminated and the elementary, middle and high schools will continue to provide music instruction.
At the elementary level, music teacher Tiffany Gump will no longer split her time as an enrichment teacher, but will be able to devote her time solely to elementary music.
The three remaining music teachers will all maintain their current positions.
Information presented at the meeting states the salary, including benefits, for a new teacher for one year is $82,650. This accounts for 28.3 percent of one mill with one mill bringing in an estimated revenue of $292,270. The 2018-19 millage budget for the district is 34.14 mills equal to $9,978.097. A new teacher may cost 11.6 mills over 30 years.
Within the district, 400 students in grades 4-12 are involved in the music program.
In the 2018-2019 budget Toth noted the total investment the district is making in the music department is $576,125 compared to athletics at $416,462.
“This is the trend and it looks to be the trend in the future,” he said.
Gankosky’s schedule has been arranged so that he will begin his day at the high school, complete his preparation period, then arrive at the middle school at 10 a.m. and remain there until the end of the day.
While at the middle school, Gankosky will provide four full periods of instrumental lessons to students and one period of band. In comparison, Schwer taught five periods of lessons and one period of band. However with the new arrangement, Gankosky is not required to perform daily lunch duty allowing him an additional 30 minutes for instrumental lessons.

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