It was a full house at the June 21 North East School Board meeting as members of the community came forward to voice their concerns about the North East Marching Band summer band camp staff being underpaid. After some debate, the board approved pay increases by a narrow margin.
The issue first arose at the June 7 board meeting, when it was brought to the board’s attention that the marching band’s staff was being paid significantly less than assistant coaches in other sports.
“I’m honestly quite embarrassed that we’re underpaying our marching band camp staff who work so hard,” said board member Dr. Jane Blystone on June 7.
At the June 7 meeting, a motion to approve a salary of $10 per hour for six staff members was tabled. The motion also included that the total amount paid to the staff did not exceed $3,000, which worked out to be about $500 per staff member.
Then, at the June 21 meeting, a new motion was brought forward to increase the staff’s salary for the summer. The new motion stated each of the staff members would receive $630 from July 30 to Aug. 10 during band camp.
In total, five members of the community addressed the school board and voiced their concerns about the staff’s salary.
“The band staff on the agenda tonight are more responsible than myself for our band’s seven LMBA championships,” said Stephan DeGrosky, band director. “The band program as it exists today could not function without them.”
Members of the North East School Board were still divided on whether the increase was needed.
North East School Board Vice President Eric Riedel made the argument that members of the marching band staff should not be paid extra during band camp, as it is similar to the preseason training most sports participate in.
“I don’t think we should be approving this,” Riedel said. “When coaches and directors start splitting their stipends, we get into problems. At most, there should be maybe three of these that are approved.”
A motion to approve the $630 salary for each of the six band camp staff members was made by board member Erin Janes and seconded by Blystone.
It passed, following a near split vote of 5-4. Voting in favor of the pay increase were School Board President Nick Mobilia, and Jennifer DeGrosky, Paul Behnken, Janes and Blystone. Voting no were Riedel, Joesph Cancilla, Andy Fynan and Corrie Boyd.