Parents: VHS needs band

Published 1:49 am Saturday, September 12, 2015

A group of concerned Varnado High School parents pleaded with Washington Parish School Board members Thursday evening to hire a qualified bandleader.
The school is without a bandleader this year after James Griffin recently retired after 17 years at the school.

“We understand how we have gotten here. We perceive we are in an emergency situation; a crisis,” Varnado supporter Levi Lewis Sr. said. “We’re asking you to being in a person temporarily until we find a perfect match. We’re asking the board to grant a waiver for a certain period of time.”

Parent Zella Daggs also expressed concern.

“A lot of our children want this band organization,” Daggs said. “We feel as parents we’re going to lose students to other schools. We have a lot of musically inclined students.”

District 9 Board member Lesley McKinley said the school board thought they had found a replacement for Griffin, but that person ultimately did not work out.

“We all have been aware of the situation at Varnado High School,” she said. “My band director at Bogalusa High School introduced me to someone. The arts are very important. We met with the gentleman and his wife.

“He was short on certification. After he put his application in and inquired around, he lost interest.”

Board President Matthew Tate said the body plans to do everything in its power to find a bandleader for the school.

“From my conversations with board members, finding a bandleader is exactly what we want to do,” Tate said. These things are prioritized. It’s going to be a community effort. I’m sure Superintendent Darrell Fairburn will meet when he gets back next week with Varnado’s representatives to see what can be done. We’ve got to stop talking and take action.”

District 3 Board member the Rev. Bruce Brown Sr. agreed with Tate.

“There is a need for a band director at Varnado, but talking noise doesn’t get anything done,” Brown said. “We’ve got to make a better effort to take care of our needs. We’re going to try and make it happen as soon as we can.”

In other business, the board adopted the following:

• Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire, which is part of the audit.

• 2015-2016 General Fund Budget of $46,009, 781.