July 22, 2002

Beginning of the Road

by Dane Sorensen

Dear Editor:

I wish to commend the new school board members in their efforts to have frank and open discussions on important issues. I especially thank Ray Marsnik in bringing up the pointed question as to why the High School Band was not in the 4th of July Parade.

I was at the Ely Parade this year and enjoyed the Ely Klown Band and the new Superior Forest Bag Pipers, but I definitely noticed the absent of the high school band. Especially since I had seen Tower's 4th of July Parade earlier in the day and was very impressed with Tower's School Band with their great new uniforms. To my surprise, after Ely's parade, several noted citizens, including a council person all asked me the same question that Mayor Shinn in the Music Man had asked. Namely, "Where's the band?"

Sadly, on many levels the Ely District is not supportive of the music program. I feel that neither Mrs. Murphy, nor Mr. Toutloff care about music or the arts.

It is understandable that the program lost a lot of kids in the Senior High Band after the disgraceful actions of Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Toutloff and the majority of the former school board. However, so poor is the motivation of the new director the numbers are dropping even more next year.

Mr. Toutloff's refusal to put the issue on the school board agenda, on why the band was not in the parade, is not the first case of censorship and controlling what the school board is allowed to know. In the first year of my wife, Candy, being Band Booster President, she was also denied a request for 5 minutes of the school board's time by Toutloff. She wished to update the board on all the progress the group had made and to express their extreme satisfaction with Mr. Lhotka. She wished to end her report with an invitation to come to the Christmas Concert. (I still remember Santa Claus directing the band!) Mr. Toutloff told her bluntly that this was a waste of board time.

When Toutloff first came to Ely he promised an open door policy. It is interesting, now that he is in firm control, that he no longer needs or cares for openness. I firmly feel the last school board election results showed the public wants openness and change. They were tired of the way finances in the school are so confusing that neither teachers or the public know what is going on. The public was also sick and tired of the way new teachers are treated in this district. Nor had the public forgot how close mined the old board was at deciding budget cuts. I urge the new school board to stick to its guns and not let the administration block the reforms that are needed to not only improve the district, but to save it.


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