School play director nod creates drama at SCS

By David Avitabile

Normally, the appointment of the musical director for the school play is cut and dry and as controversial as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before a meeting, but that was not the case in Schoharie last week.
At a special meeting Thursday, Schoharie school board members, in a split vote, appointed Cassandra Olin as the musical director for the current school year with a stipend of $3,660.
The appointment of Ms. Olin, a music teacher in the high school, was not welcomed by four parents who attended the meeting.
Parent Angela VanDerwerken urged board members not to approve the appointment and to get someone with more experience.
The school, added Ms. VanDerwerken, who has four children, has a great tradition of musical productions.
The spring musical, she added, is very important to students.
She asked board members not to make a decision until they viewed recent performances of the different groups from last year compared to prior years.
Paul VanDerwerken, who graduated from SCS last year, distributed DVDs of recent performances to board members.
He also urged board members to table any action on the appointment until later this month.
He also questioned the notice for the special meeting.
Schoharie Superintendent David Blanchard answered that notices for the meeting were sent out around 4pm last Wednesday.
Leslie VanDerwerken noted that the performance level of last year's play was still "pretty high" despite having a new director.
The quality of excellence in other musical productions "have gone down dramatically," she added.
The district, he noted, followed the advice of the school's attorney.
Board member Terry Burton noted that only one person applied for the position and that the board acts on the recommendation that the district hires, in this case the principal.
"It's not our job to reopen the search."
Another parent questioned why there was only one candidate for the position.
The question was not answered.
The motion to appoint Ms. Olin passed with board member Dan Guasp abstaining.
Board members also appointed Pamela Guest as half-time musical assistant.

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