Band going to Bluffton

Zoe Greszler • Apr 18, 2017 at 7:00 PM

WILLARD — It’s been decided — the Willard High School band will go to Bluffton University for summer band camp despite more than $3,000 of outstanding fees from last year’s trip.

The 2016 band camp saw a number of students who never paid their fees for the activity, amounting to $3,250 unaccounted for. Since the piper must be paid, High School Principal Chris Schaaf took the funds from his principal’s account, which receives its funds from donations and fundraisers to pay for assemblies and other special activities for the high school student body.  

The money was the students’ responsibility and is still required to be paid to replace the funds from Schaaf’s account. The trip costs about $230 per student.

School officials though said 2016 is not the normal pattern of the students, and they don’t expect it to happen again.

“This is the first instance in about 42 years that I know of, except for one instance (where one student did not pay),” said superintendent Jeff Ritz. “This is the first time other than that that this has happened. There have been policies put in place to prevent it from happening again.”

“I truly think this is a fluke I really think with proper management it will be back on track,” said band director Matt Keasal. 

“I’m prepared to set up that aggressive of a fundraising (to keep this going in the future),” he added.

The school polled the parents, asking if they would prefer their children to go to Bluffton or stay on the high school campus for band camp, reducing or eliminating the cost but decreasing or eliminating the “band camp experience,” Keasal said.

Ritz said 80 percent said they want it stay in Willard.

But when the polls were opened to the students, alumni and community members 90 percent voted for a trip to Bluffton.

“The thing though is they don’t pay the bill — the parents do,” Ritz said.

Ritz though recommended the board not make a hasty decision based on one year of poor accountability. He advised the board allow the students to go to Blufton this year and watch how things work out for payment. 

“My recommendation that we let them go one year. If it continues down this path then we can look at it,” Ritz said.

The board approved the trip, but added they hope the issue is resolved and Schaaf’s account is refunded soon.


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