The Prosper Independent School District board of trustees approved a total $420,682 for the district’s music program at its monthly meeting on March 20. Of the approved funds, $102,440 are headed towards new uniforms for the high school band. Director of Bands John Alstrin said the high school needs uniforms for both concert and marching performances. He said the need arises from a large freshmen class.
“We have 128 (freshmen) enrolled as of this morning, so we’re looking at 50 additional concert tuxedos and 50 additional concert dresses for UIL concert, and that will be a $9,000 expenditure,” Alstrin said to the board. “This year we’ll go from sending three bands to UIL to four bands to UIL, so they’ll need to be in uniforms.”
He said currently, the band’s uniforms are mismatched because when he was brought into the district two and a half years ago, he ordered better fitting Fred J. Miller pants for the band students that are a different brand from their Fruhauf jackets. He said the idea was to slowly piece together a new uniform for a more competitive look. Now, he said, the band program is at a juncture.
“We either need to buy more of the Fruhauf tops because we have 238 working tops and we have an additional 100 (students) … so we either need 100 new Fruhauf tops, which will bump our inventory to close to 340 of the green top, or we need to change course,” he said. “So part of this is me thinking ahead. We’re four years into it and the average lifespan of a marching uniform is about eight years. So if we bump up our inventory now and we have a closet full of those jackets, then in four years when the others expire and start to get really ratty and fall apart, then we’re half in and half out — do we go buy another 250 green ones to match that or are we just out? So we’re going to have to make a decision at some point.”
He added that when the new high school opens in three years, it will be unclear whether the district would want to have the same look or try to put the students in new uniforms.
At this point, Alstrin said, he went ahead and had Fred J. Miller design a prototype jacket for the students. He showed where a panel on the jacket with the Prosper “P” rests is removable, and allows the band to change its look without much difficulty.
“We’ll be the first school to have this design,” Alstrin said. “This is kind of my brain child. I want variability. I want to be able to change the look year to year without breaking the bank.”
Part of that new look also includes removable sleeves, so students can wear various undergarments and have different pops of color coming through to accent the themes of their shows. He told the board that this was all optional. The board could instead choose to go with the Fruhauf jackets for a less expensive fix, or move ahead with the Fred J. Miller design but without the removable sleeves and save $20,000.
Board member Mays Davenport made a motion to approve the Fred J. Miller uniforms with the removable sleeves, telling Alstrin, “We think you do a great job.”
Other board members gushed their agreement.
“It’s such a highlight of the games,” board member Mary Lou Smith said.
Alstrin expressed his thanks, noting how important it is to have the board’s support as he tries to balance the growth in the district.
“And that’s just the small-ticket item,” he said with a grin, and the board moved on to its next item of purchasing instruments for its schools, a $318,000 investment.
He said $111,000 of that number is just in buying double reeds, oboes and bassoons, which are usually high-ticket items.
“This is going to encapsulate the whole school district,” Alstrin said. “… When we invest in instruments, we’re making long-term investments. These are instruments that are going to be used for the next 25 years. So it’s not one student that’s getting to benefit, this is a lot of kids that are getting to play on these horns.”
He told the board he received bids from four different vendors. A breakdown of the costs showed that at the high school level there was a need for 25 concert band instruments and 21 marching instruments, for a total of $215,000. For Rogers Middle School, Alstrin requested drum line instruments, since currently Rogers and Reynolds Middle Schools are splitting the drum sets they inherited from Prosper High School, and to round things out due to growth, he requested 15 concert band instruments for Reynolds to reach the $318,000 total.
“Those are expensive,” board Vice President Jim Bridges said.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Alstrid responded. “… It’s one of those where if we don’t have the instrument then we’re switching that kid to a new instrument and they’ve spent three years learning it.”
Bridges made a motion to approve, which passed unanimously.
“Our board is of the belief that all students truly means all students, so there’s not one narrow view or one program only, and I think tonight was a true testament of their (the board member’s) commitment to all students in Prosper ISD,” Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Holly Ferguson said of the district’s investment in the arts program.
She said in the past with programs such as choir or orchestra, parents or booster clubs have been responsible for providing many of the things students needed to perform, such as formal attire and instruments. Now, she said, the district makes an effort to help families in those areas.
“For our board to say, ‘Hey, we’ll take that burden off of the parent and we’ll take that and make this really the level that it needs to be in the district,’ that’s just a testament to what they’re doing for our students and really that investment in educating our kids,” Ferguson said.