by Jim Boyle
Activities director Mike Cunningham told members of the Elk River Area School Board the most pressing need for his department is to bolster the district’s underfunded marching band.
The district marching band is underfunded, understaffed in terms of paid staff, and under-supported, a report on an activities study states.
“We have been relying on volunteers and dedicated people to get this program off the ground,” Cunningham said. “We are starting to see people get stretched too thin with all the work they do with little compensation over such a long season.”
The proposal to fix that calls for modeling a pay structure after one the Anoka-Hennepin School District uses for its marching band program.
Currently the Elk River Area School District offers a summer marching band program.
Years ago, Elk River High School offered a summer and fall marching band, but that was cut.
Approximately five years ago, the district’s high schools went to a districtwide marching band (the 728 Cadets), which includes members from Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman.
The program started off small but now has more than 100 members, and it has been very successful at winning awards.
When the band was started, there were two stipends that were used to fund adviser positions totaling approximately $3,000 (summer marching band adviser and marching band adviser), but those were later removed.
“It takes many specialists to support a quality marching band,” the activities report states. “In addition to the head director, specialists are needed in areas such as battery, pit, band proper instructor(s), colorguard instructor, marching specialist and so forth.”
During the summer of 2012, the district paid total stipends of $2,185 plus benefits. The booster club paid an additional $5,633 in salaries and benefits. In addition to salaries and benefits, the booster club paid for all transportation, uniforms, music and supplies for the 728 Cadets.
Under the recommended plan modeled after Anoka-Hennepin’s, a head director would receive $350 per parade (up to 10 parades).
An assistant would get paid $200 per parade (up to 10 parades).
Anoka-Hennepin pays one full-time head director and three assistant directors with the assistant positions split between many people.
Total cost to the Elk River Area School District under this plan would be approximately $9,500 plus benefits, the report states.
Activities directors also recommend capital dollars could be used to offset the cost of uniforms every five years, as well as help with some equipment replacement on a rotation basis.