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Feb 20, 2012 1:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton High School Marching Band Yearns For Uniforms

Feb 29, 2012 12:03 PM

Something is a bit off-key about the Southampton High School marching band, according to its director and a parent of one of its members: a lack of proper band uniforms.

The 48 students in the band wear short-sleeved maroon polo shirts that sport a white treble clef on the left breast and say “Southampton Marching.” Students are required to pay about $25 apiece for the shirts, according to Danielle Schulman, who has been the director of bands in the district for the past seven years. For pants, they wear their own khakis.

But Mary O’Connor, a Southampton alum whose sophomore daughter—whose name she requested not be published—plays flute in the band, says she feels the musicians deserve real uniforms.

“I have been shocked and dismayed at the lack of proper attire for the band members,” the Southampton Village mother told the Southampton School Board during a board meeting on February 7. This past fall, for example, many band members stood shivering through the village’s Veterans Day parade while the rest of the public was bundled up, she said.

“This, in a district that has a brand-new AstroTurf athletic field with floodlights, and would not think of sending a sports team onto that field without proper uniforms,” she said.

Her efforts to find out why uniforms have never materialized, despite requests to be included in past budgets, have always ended with district officials telling her they would get back to her, she said. They never did, she added. As a result, a district tradition appears to be gradually eroding. A band that once led off the village’s Fourth of July parade no longer participates, she said, in part because members are embarrassed about not having uniforms to wear.

“It’s a very valid set of questions,” School Board President David Dubin told Ms. O’Connor at the meeting of her concerns.

Mr. Dubin said last week that the district was exploring its options regarding band uniforms. In the past, he said, cost estimates for full uniforms—which often include patterned long-sleeved shirts, jackets, pants and hats with plumes—came in to the tune of as much as $100,000, a figure district officials considered a pricey proposition.

Maria H. Smith, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said she remembers band uniforms priced at $30,000 or more, depending on the order.

“They have been discussed at budget time, and have not been included in the final budget numbers. There is no one reason why,” Ms. Smith wrote in an email when asked why requests have never come to fruition.

It is too early in the budget-making process this year to tell whether uniforms will be a new line item, Mr. Dubin said, but the district is looking into a “reasonable solution,” such as matching pants, shirts and jackets.

The band marches twice a year, at the Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades in the village. They also play—but do not march—at all home varsity football games each fall, which total four per year, Ms. Schulman said. The band last played in the Fourth of July Parade in 2005, she said, but because of the low turnout—only 12 members showed up that day—that event was scratched from future schedules.

Southampton’s band does not compete against other bands. Marching band competitions typically require more band members, as well as uniforms that are less than 10 years old, Ms. Schulman said, noting that each competition has different standards.

“I think it would do a lot. It would raise spirits,” Ms. Schulman said about the prospect of Southampton’s musicians being outfitted in uniform. “All the sports teams go out in uniform, and we don’t have a uniform. It doesn’t reflect the work that the kids do.”

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55 million dollar budget and they can't afford uniforms, I guess when the administrators say it's for the kids they mean it's for them. Pretty pathetic
By maxwell (169), speonk on Feb 29, 12 1:35 PM
"Southampton Union Free School District (UFSD) is committed to cultivating and nurturing unselfish self-fulfillment, since the district was admitted to the University of the State of New York on 1892."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Feb 29, 12 3:39 PM
Hey Max, last I checked, the Remsenburg-Speonk school system was dealing with minors stealing lap tops, you might want to check yourself before you check SHS. And for future reference, SHS is indeed for the kids and has provided legions of children with educations that have helped them attain great heights. A perfect public school system does not exist. The story is not an opportunity for a bunch of you to upchuck the old and tired lines about budgets etc. If the kids who play in the marching ...more
By Toucan Sam (7), Southampton on Feb 29, 12 5:32 PM
Sorry Sam but that is one pathetic comeback you must be a teacher or other employee of SHS. When there are issues in Rem-Speonk I will address them accordingly. When a districts spends 33k per student there are drastic inefficiencies and probably corruption. And building character is great but preparing and teaching the student is the number one priority. Remember shs spends 3 and 1/2 times the state average per student. Why is that so?
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 1, 12 1:56 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Running Man, Southampton on Mar 1, 12 3:56 PM
With a Blue Ribbon school award a few years ago, ability to go to WHB Schools where all the students from 6th grade on get laptops and with paying less than 3000 dollars a year TOTAL property taxes, you're right I will keep Remsenburg-Speonk School District. And at what point was this become a "my town is better than yours" discussion? Sam, it was one kid who stole one laptop. Not some ongoing scheme from what I read, plus it goes back to December. I believe Maxwell was criticizing school employees ...more
By lucky and aware (44), Speonk on Mar 1, 12 4:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
What a bunch of horsecrap- Public school systems suck
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Mar 1, 12 6:05 PM
Bottem line here is that a school district with perhaps the highest spending per student in the state and most likely the country can't afford uniforms for their marching band because all the money is going god knows where. How come the top districts in Nassau county and this is not to imply that SHSD is a top district because it certainly is not spend less than half of what they do with better results. The money is spent on excess teachers and administrators without concern for the students. And ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 2, 12 1:39 PM
What about that guy Calvin who tore down the castle on the beach, he's in the rag business isn't he? Maybe he could put together something for the kids in his adopted town.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Mar 3, 12 12:30 AM
The school orchestras and vocal clubs don't have uniforms either. They are given instructions on what to wear before a concert. Sometimes it is a white top with black pants or skirts. Sometimes it's black top with black pants or skirts. Sometimes boys are told to wear regular ties, sometimes they are told to wear bowties. Most recently, boys in the string orchestra have been told to wear a dark suit with a bowtie and girls have been told to wear full length gowns.

Why can't the orchestras ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Mar 3, 12 1:42 AM
During the course of being interviewed for the article, I mentioned that my inquiry about the uniforms could also be extended to the Chorus, but since I do not have a child in the Chorus, I didn't feel I should speak for those who do.

The lack of uniforms reflects poorly on the district; but the lack of transparency about the budgeting process is something that should have everyone wondering what's going on.

Maybe the question we should all be asking is "why are there no answers?" ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Mar 3, 12 10:49 PM
Easy answer can one overpaid useless administrator and surprise you could have uniforms for everyone. Remember it starts with one and pretty soon the district will be running without maybe 10 useless people. Something to chew on.
By maxwell (169), speonk on Mar 5, 12 1:19 PM
1 member liked this comment