PLAISTOW — Timberlane Regional School District's music director defended his department and solidified support from the superintendent at Thursday night's board meeting.
"Eliminating any position would increase the student ratio and more importantly a lessening of the education experience and overburdening the teachers," Timberlane's Music Director Anthony DiBartolomeo said as he presented on his department's staffing.
With three vacancies in the music department — a strings director, a choral director and secondary music teacher — DiBartolomeo was asked to attend the board meeting to present on the department and discuss if there were any potential cuts that could be made from the seven-person team teaching at the middle and high school.
"This is a transition year. We look at staffing because of our move out of SAU 55, this is part of the withdrawal and looking at the structure and who reports to whom," said Board Chair Kimberly Farah.
The board does not directly approve job postings, so there were no formal decisions made. Farah directed DiBartolomeo to discuss the job postings for both the strings position and secondary music teacher with Superintendent Earl Metzler who seemed to be in favor of posting the positions.
"I trust his recommendation is the best recommendation for our music department," Metzler said.
A finalist for the choral director position has already been identified and will be officially hired this summer, DiBartolomeo said.
These positions had piqued public interest earlier in the year when strings director Louis Pajak announced her retirement. A petition asking the board not to cut any music positions had garnered more than 3,000 signatures as of Thursday's meeting.
The board insisted on talking with DiBartolomeo to see if any cuts could potentially be made ahead of what is expected to be a challenging financial year.
Students were also vocal with Jenna Horan, a student school board member, saying that as a chamber choir student she was impacted by the choral director vacancy earlier this year and wants to see the positions filled.
"Not only was our content as chamber singers diminished we had to watch our directors struggle... I can't imagine the teachers absorbing another teacher's position," Horan said.