Biba set to retire from middle school
By Robert Cloud
Greg Biba wants to know if the Waupaca School District plans to continue having two full-time band teachers at the middle school.
He shared his concerns at the Waupaca School Board meeting on March 12.
Biba said he announced in September that he planned to retire as the middle school band director at the end of this school year.
However, the district has not posted an opening for his position.
“We implore the board not to split up the middle school band position again,” Biba said.
In a letter to the school board, Biba said two middle school band teachers are needed to work with the large number of students who participate.
“We have over 300 students in band,” Biba said. “How does one person teach that many students how to put their instruments together, make a sound on their instrument, hold their instrument, read music notation, learn music terminology, play the instrument, create a decent tone on their instrument, learn the note names and then the fingerings for each note name, then how long to hold each note and then what style to play each note?”
Beyond the fundamentals of playing an instrument, Biba said students must also understand what the composer is expressing and how to add their own emotions to the piece.
If middle school students are not adequately trained on their instruments, they will not be ready to perform in the high school band, Biba said.
“Waupaca cannot call themselves an advocate for the arts when the arts are not supported,” Biba said.
“We’re not looking to cut music. We’re not looking to cut the arts. We’re just looking to continually be mindful of what our resources are in comparison to our expenses and continue to provide the high quality instruction that we’re known for,” according to District Administrator Greg Nyen.
Nyen said the school board must make decisions about the overall budget and which programs may need more of the district’s limited financial resources and which may need less.
He said the board could make staff reductions through attrition or it could lay off staff because of changes made in programming several years later.
“We didn’t post the position because we hadn’t had this conversation with the board yet and if we would have posted and filled the position, then there is no conversation because we already made that decision,” Nyen said.
Board President Stephen Johnson said the board’s intent is to be fiscally responsible.