Popular Stark County 100 School District band instructor Chris Cinnamon recently resigned his position rather than take on expanded responsibilities in the elementary school, as the district down-sizes from three fulltime music instructors to just two.
District superintendent Jerry Klooster confirmed the reduction in music staff, saying that two instructors would be “consistent with most districts of our size.”
Cinnamon, 60, has taught music for 37 years, the last eight years at Stark County. Prior to that, Cinnamon taught for more than 20 years in Kokomo, Indiana schools.
Stark 100 elementary music teacher Laura Bennet recently moved out of state, creating a vacancy.
“We determined that the reduction in staff could be made and not reduce program,” said Klooster.
To do so, however, will require that Cinnamon’s replacement, Brenda (Curry) Macke, teach elementary music, 5th grade band and high school band, dividing her time between the high school in Toulon and the grade school in Wyoming. Previously, Cinnamon was in the high school all day.
The district’s choral director, Angie Roark, will now be responsible not only for the junior high and high school choruses, but also now the junior high band. Roark has never taught band.
Cinnamon told The News that at this stage in his career he simply did not want to take on the additional duties. “It’s not something I wanted to do,” he said.
“We were disappointed when Chris retired,” said Klooster, “but we understand his position.”
The decision to down-size happened “so fast at the very end of the past school year that I feel bad that I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to my students,” added Cinnamon.
Cinnamon and present choral music director Angie Roark proposed that the district hire a half-time music instructor for the elementary district, but the board rejected that idea.
Cinnamon says “the slippage (in programming for students) will be subtle. For example, in the past, we could do lessons for students during the day, preparing them for contests and statewide auditions.”
That will no longer be possible, with the band instructor spending mornings in the elementary school.
According to Cinnamon, area schools have varied complements of music instructors. He noted that the Kewanee district, which had 1,825 students in 2014 (Stark County 100 had 786), has only one music instructor for both high school band and choir.
The Annawan district, with only 446 students, has just one music instructor for all K-12 grades.
On the other hand, Mercer County (1,384 students) has three instructors, as Stark County did until this coming year.
“I don’t have anything against anybody,” said Cinnamon. “I want nothing but the best for Stark County and I am optimistic for the school’s future.”
As with many rural districts, Stark County enrollment has been declining, from 952 in 2002 to only 786 in 2014.
In 1870, Stark County schools enrolled 3,155 students. The total for the county is as of 2014 about 950, including the 164 students in Bradford elementary and Junior High schools.