It was a not-so-silent night at the special meeting held by the Wausau School Board and administration last night to address the recent decision to limit “religious” music performed at annual Christmas concerts. The Wausau East High School auditorium was packed with concerned parents, taxpayers, students, and alum who voiced their strong opposition to the new policy; only one supporter spoke last night. The meeting lasted nearly 4-1/2 hours.
Over and over those who were upset by the religious music policy called for the dismissal of Supt. Kathleen Williams, who apparently instituted the policy without board knowledge or approval, and an apology to Mr. Phil Buch, the beloved director of the elite choir, Master Singers.
WFA president Julaine Appling spoke at the meeting, “Schools are to be a reflection of the community…. It is incumbent upon administration, it is incumbent upon school boards to reflect in their decisions, and in the process by which arrive at their decisions, community values.” She continued, “As school board members and as administration, it is very important that you stay in touch with, and reflect in that decision-making process, what this community values.” “Some portion of this problem is the age-old issue of communication. I believe much of this situation could have been addressed had the process been openly communicated all along the way. What you’re seeing tonight in this auditorium are parents and citizens who say ‘we woke up one morning and found out that what we thought was happening, isn’t what’s happening.'” Addressing the school board directly, Appling stated, “You don’t get crowds like this if the issue isn’t important to the people.”
The Wausau School Board passed a resolution last night to leave holiday concerts up to the music teachers at individual schools, reversing the controversial policy that limited “religious” music. They also passed a resolution that returns the music selection for concerts policy to what it had been prior to the controversial change. An additional resolution was also passed to form a committee to study this issue and make recommendations to the Board for policy changes and refinements.
One school board member asked that consideration of a performance review of the superintendent be added to the board’s regular meeting which is this coming Monday.
The Master Singers will resume rehearsals on Monday.