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The Hoosac Valley marching band, seen at last year's Fall Foliage Parade, is growing and needs new uniforms and instruments.

Hoosac Valley Band Asks For New Uniforms, Equipment

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — With growing numbers and aging equipment, the Hoosac Valley High Music Department is asking the School Committee to consider making an investment in the musical program.
 
Band director Jacob Keplinger told the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee on Monday said more students are expected to join the band in the coming years and they are already running short on uniforms.
 
"It is a good problem to have right now," he said but it requires the resources to meet the students' needs.
 
Keplinger said the band has 68 members at the moment and although 10 are expected to graduate at the end of the year, 21 seventh-graders are slated to join the band when they enter the eighth grade. 
 
The uniform situation is not the best and he has to mix uniforms purchased in 2012 and 2002, and some much older. 
 
"We are kind of using fill-in uniforms right now," he said. "I am using the new ones that are not so new anymore, the ones we purchased in 2002, and the others — I don't know when they were purchased but they are something you would see out of the 'Music Man.'"
 
He said size options are also a problem and he can't properly outfit his students with the current selection. 
 
"Then we can finally get rid of all of the old ones so everything will be the same across the board," he said. "So that is the big thing I am asking for."
 
He said the district purchased 30 uniforms in 2012 for $7,500 and 30 new identical ones from the same company would cost $9,000.
 
Keplinger said he will not be able to absorb this amount in his proposed budget.
 
The School Committee voted to ask Business Manager Erika Snyder to add the item to the budget. Snyder made a note of the proposed expenditure but said it would have to be discussed as she puts the fiscal 2020 budget together. 
 
Keplinger also brought forth some less immediate requests. After taking inventory of the department's instruments, he will need approximately $25,000 in replacement equipment. 
 
"This is the first time I have come to the School Committee to ask for anything like this," he said. "Stuff adds up real fast and we are lucky the stuff that we have has held together and works. Anything that needs to be fixed I have been fixing right along but the stuff we have is pretty old."
 
He said he is not asking for a new Steinway piano that would run upwards of $100,000 but has in mind eight to 10 larger instruments that typically students would not purchase.
 
His main concern are the two marching sousaphones that are nearing the end of their life span.
 
"They will be needing replacement in the near future. Unfortunately, they are large ticket items that can't just be absorbed by the regular budget," Keplinger said. "They are the age of the school and I am not talking about the renovation. They are from 1969 and 1970 and they are falling apart."
 
He said a single sousaphone typically runs in the $4,000 range, so two would cost around $8,000.
 
Keplinger said there may be options to lessen the financial blow — some companies will allow instrument trade-ins and or let the school put money down and pay over time.
 
This $25,000 number does not include the department's percussion inventory that he said is also old. He said a new tympani alone costs $10,000.
 
Keplinger said he would like to implement an instrument replacement program.
 
Superintendent John Vosburgh said he thought this would be a good idea. 
 
"It is like technology where we have to develop some sort of recycling plan so we aren't buying two tubas at $8,000," he said.  
 
Vosburgh asked Keplinger to provide a priority list for the district to consider.
 
Although the School Committee could not approve any of Keplinger's request, members did approve the band's quinquennial trip to Disney World.
 
"It is always a wonderful trip," Chairman Paul Butler said. "Good luck."
 
The trip will be in February 2020.
 
In other business, Snyder did give a brief budget update and said after viewing the governor's proposed budget and cherry sheet numbers, she expects a solid foundation for the fiscal 2020 budget.
 
"Usually the governor's budget proposal is the baseline and the Senate and House tend to build on that," she said. "Overall it is good compared to last year we are getting $100,000 more in aid so that is round one. It's subject to change but things look good at first glance."
 
She said the district should receive a $20 increase per foundation enrollment student in Chapter 70 education funding and an increase in transportation and charter school reimbursement. 

Tags: ACRSD,   high school band,   music,   

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