Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, 18 October 2013 08:56
MILLBURY - There was high drama at Wednesday's Lake Board of Education meeting.
Dozens of students, parents and staff protested the board's decision last month to not fund a high school/middle school drama club adviser position for $972.
"It is more than just another club," said senior David Henninger. He said drama club brings together students from all walks of life - ones who many not be super smart or athletically gifted.
After a 30-minute executive session, the board, pending a review by the co-curricular committee, gave the fledgling club a reprieve. It will be allowed to run this year, again with a volunteer adviser, and then will be revisited next academic year.
Board president Tim Krugh said if the drama club continues to demonstrate that it is viable, the board will take a serious look at funding the adviser position in 2014-15.
Rick Brimmer, president of the Lake Education Association, said the drama club was formed last year with the hopes that if student attendance was high enough, it would become a formal club this year.
He said more than 150 fifth through 12-grade students are participating.
"It's the students and the parents who have generated all this," Brimmer said, referring to the board meeting crowd.
Jennifer Perry, who teaches high school and middle school choir at Lake, led the drama club last year as a volunteer.
The group put on two talent shows and was looking forward to putting on more productions this school year, she said.
The issue is not about her getting $972 for the adviser position, said Perry, who offered to do the job for a "handshake and $100."
"I would like for it to be recognized as an official club of Lake Local Schools, and for the kids to have their picture in the yearbook," she said.
At the September meeting, when the drama club and several other adviser positions were not funded, the board said if it had any extra money, it should be spent on teachers and restoring all-day everyday kindergarten.
The board reduced the kindergarten program and eliminated 43 positions after voters rejected two levies in 2011. A new 6.75-mil, three-year levy was approved last year.
Parent Amy Walker said $100 - the amount Perry volunteered to do the position for - was not enough to hire a teacher. Pointing to a spreadsheet of numbers, she added that Lake spends $256,626, including $184,000 in athletics, on extracurriculars annually.
Several of the drama club students attending Wednesday's meeting were wearing bright yellow T-shirts with "Shakespeare is my homeboy" printed on them.
"It's a big deal to us," said student Amy Baker. "There's some people who don't do athletics. Where do they fit in?"
Baker said Perry welcomes anyone and everyone to drama club.
"Ms. Perry makes it that way. I can come to her with anything. She's the best teacher I ever had."
Krugh said he knows first-hand the value of a club like this one.
"As a parent of someone who did musicals here; I did musicals here … I think it's an excellent activity for these kids and it does cross a wide spectrum of students," he said.
However, the board has to manage Lake's money, and extracurriculars are "extras," Krugh said. He pointed out that the board in 2006 cut several clubs and sports, including hockey, bowling and tennis.
Before the closed meeting on Wednesday, Krugh was asked how the drama club issue was considered an "executive session" matter. He said it fell under compensation, which is one of a half-dozen reasons allowed under the Ohio Revised Code for elected officials to exclude the public and media. Other reasons include hiring personnel, purchasing property and meeting with an attorney.
Three of the parents with students in drama club were invited in for the executive session.