HHS students start petition to save music program, but board says there’s no need for concern

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A petition created by Huntsville High School (HHS) students concerned about the continuation of the school’s music program has been shared widely on social media and has garnered 1,370 signatures since it was started six days ago on change.org.

The student who initiated the petition has declined an interview with Doppler, but the petition titled Ensure Huntsville High School Keeps its Music Program notes that, “For over 40 years, Huntsville High School has had one of the strongest music programs in the province. With one of the two music teachers retiring at the end of June, this program is entering an important time of transition. In the interest of ensuring that music at HHS remains healthy and thriving for years to come, our community encourages the administration of Huntsville High School to hire a music specialist who is qualified teaching concert band, jazz band and vocal music.”

One of the school’s music teachers, Louis Tusz, is retiring this year.

The petition page also notes that, given enough signatures, it will be forwarded to Trillium Lakelands District School Board trustee, Bruce Reain.

But Andrea Gillespie, the school’s superintendent, said that the board fully supports the continuation of the music program at HHS and intends to hired a qualified teacher.

“We are in full support of continuing and having music flourish at Huntsville High,” said Gillespie. “We recognize the amazing work that both Louis Tusz and Jordan Riley have done to the music program, and before them John Hall. There has been a legacy of amazing music teachers through Huntsville High and our job as a board is to go out and find someone who is going to be the next Mr. Tusz, the next Mr. Hall.”

With Tusz retiring, and with the potential for HHS’s other music teacher, Jordan Riley, to also retire in the next few years, Gillespie said that “we are looking at making some staffing decisions that will sustain music into the future in Huntsville.”

The board will be issuing a job posting for a full-time music teacher on May 17, said Gillespie. “There are nine sections of music next year at Huntsville High which generates 1.5 staff. So we are going out looking for a full-time, 1.0 music teacher.” She added that she’s not sure why there is a perception that it would be seeking an unqualified teacher.

“We are looking for a full-time music teacher—there are qualified music teachers out there,” she said. “As a board, we are making lots of decisions to enhance the arts and this would be one of them.”

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4 Comments

  1. The Board says there is no issue, but we know that hiring tends to be “reactive” to enrollment, and also has to follow seniority issues, etc. of the union. I am worried that this will be addressed at the last minute, and we will NOT get the best person for the job. I don’t know how to change this, but keep putting pressure on the Board to address this NOW!

  2. What most people don’t realize is that by posting to hire a full time music teacher, the existing veteran teacher of 28 years is being back benched to teaching half time music. Is this the best thing for the Huntsville High School music program?

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