East and the Williamsville School District has always been known for its music department and has won several awards in the past for outstanding choruses, bands, orchestras, and even individual performers. Over 50% of students from third grade through twelfth grade are involved in music participation at school.
However, some feel that our music department is outdated and even a hindrance. The orchestra have no room to rehearse, and are relegated to the stage, there isn’t a seperate music theory classroom, and no dressing room for the Drama Club.
On Thursday, December 13, District Office posed a question to Williamsville constituents, asking them to vote on improving and updating the music departments in the high schools and middle schools.
This comes after East constructed a new athletic complex which opened in 2017 at Homecoming. Many argued that if the athletic department is renovated, then music should be next.
“As an orchestra student we have to rehearse on the stage, and don’t truly have any place to expand our music capabilities, and we feel unimportant. I hope that this project boosts the music departments importance especially since the athletic department was just renovated.” commented freshman, Samantha Fitzpatrick.
The project for East would include a new computer lab, classroom, and practice rooms. They want to improve the acoustics in the band room, increase storage, and renovate the music department bathrooms. They will also construct an addition to East that will house the new chorus, and orchestra rooms, as well as proper dressing rooms for the Drama Club.
“Our program has grown over the years and we are bursting at the seams. The building expansion is going to help our students and enhance our music program so much.” commented chorus teacher Ms. Reilly.
In order for our audience members and performers to have a more pleasurable experience the auditorium will also be renovated. The aud will be made ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, we will also receive a new light and sound system. We can look forward to greater acoustics within the Aud, and better rigging on the stage, as well as the sprinkler pump system being moved out of the backstage area.
The project would expand the music department´s square footage from 5968 sqft. to 14460 sqft, a 243% increase.
There will be some general construction done to East within this time frame and that includes a replacement of the pool dehumidification system.
The total projected cost of the project for all four middle schools and three high schools is $36,659,930, however, with debt issuance, capital reserve funds, and capital outlay, there is a $0 tax increase for Williamsville constituents.
An overwhelming majority of constituents voted in favor of the proposition. Of the 1483 voters who attended Thursday proposition, 1177 voted for the music wing expansion, and 306 voted against.
This vote is first step in the approval process. Next year, the architects draft the required documents, and it is submitted to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) by June. Hopefully the NYSED will approve the plans in February of 2020, where it will be submitted then to Board of Education by April. They hope to begin construction by June 2020, and have the project completed by December 2022.
This unfortunately means that first class to enjoy the project will be the Class of 2023, next year’s freshman.
“I’m sad I won’t be here for it,” commented Stella Hobart, a senior, “but I’m glad future generations of East students will be able to enjoy the new department.”
The East music department is a valuable asset to our school, and it is rewarding to know that others feel the same way, and want to support the broadening of music education.