By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Declining enrollment numbers especially during the last six years has caused administrators in the Wawasee Community School Corporation to make some tough decisions. Back in the spring, the decision was made to no longer offer the orchestra program beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
The number of participants in orchestra the last few years had been low, said Dr. Steve Troyer, superintendent of WCSC. Orchestra had been available for middle school and high school students and its history in the school corporation goes back to the late 1960s when Wawasee High School originally opened.
Dr. Joyce Dubach had been teaching orchestra in three buildings: the high school and both Wawasee Middle School and Milford Middle School, “which was probably necessary for a school the size of Wawasee,” Troyer said.
Troyer said he spoke to Dr. Dubach in the spring and told her the orchestra program would be eliminated for next year. “At the time, we let her know that she certainly would be able to continue teaching if she wanted to do that,” he said. “Dr. Dubach is a tremendous teacher, one who I have a great deal of respect for, and ultimately she decided to retire instead of taking on another teaching assignment. She was not ‘forced’ to retire and made the decision on her own, with input from her family,” adding the decision was made about the program, not the teacher.
Troyer emphasized the declining enrollment has caused taking a critical look at a number of programs, not just orchestra. Within the last six years the school corporation enrollment has dropped by more than 300 students.
“We simply can’t do the same things that we could do when we had 350 more students,” he said. “The state of financing in Indiana doesn’t allow for that to happen, and we’ve had to make some difficult decisions in a number of cases; orchestra was one of those situations.”
Geometry in Construction, French and a PE lab class will no longer be offered at the high school, he noted, and an agriculture elective class will no longer be offered at Milford Middle School due to staff reshuffling. “We had to pull a teacher who had been teaching there (Milford) back to just teaching at the high school because we had to move another teacher due to the growth of the welding program,” Troyer said.
Band and choir will still be offered, he said.
Changes on the operations side have been made too, such as combining positions in the technology department and central office among others.