Band member Taja Wright models the new Onalaska Hilltopper uniform.

After 16 years of wearing the same old uniforms, the Onalaska Marching Band is a step closer to getting some new threads after the school board voted to kick start the funding efforts at its meeting last week.

The district will contribute $35,000 toward the fundraising efforts in a show of support for the program. Superintendent Fran Finco said he and High School Principal Jared Schaffner discussed whether it would be better to show support for the fundraising effort upfront or wait until it was over. He said they concluded it was better to show dedication to the band department with $35,000 of funding ahead of the fundraiser.

The 145 uniforms, which will feature cleaner lines and a new color scheme are estimated to cost $115,000.

“I think it’s a good idea to commit up front,” Finco said. “You start with a commitment and then go public rather than say you’ll clean up at the end.”

Next Schaffner had to determine how much funding was appropriate.

“Since the last time band uniforms were fundraised for, we’ve had a very different shift in philosophy in the district in terms of what boosters provide and don’t provide,” he said.

Schaffner looked at the financial support the district had given other large performance groups, like the dance team, when purchasing uniforms to ensure students groups were treated fairly.

“We pay roughly a third of the cost, which is roughly what the $35,000 represents,“ Schaffner said.

Finco said this kind of planning shows how far the district has come in how it handles funding for these large student activities.

“Think about where we were 15-years ago with uniforms and booster clubs, we were picking up lots of slack,” he said. “Now we believe after our self-inquiry and self-reflection that that’s our responsibility, but if your not ready for the booster clubs can help too.”

Finance Director Kent Ellickson said due to the delay in the state budget this fall many staffing positions were not filled immediately or have yet to be filled, leaving some funding on the table to finance the contribution. He was confident the district would find the additional funding within the budget.

The board unanimously voted to approve the additional funding for band uniforms.

Community members wishing to show their support for the fundraiser should contact Band Director Robert Coe at 608-783-4561 or visit the band website at www.onalaskabands.com.

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Winona Daily News Crime & Government Reporter

Tobias Mann covers crime and local government for the Winona Daily News. He can be reached at tobias.mann@winonadailynews.com or at 507-271-3271.

(1) comment


Whaaaaat? They wanted and got a referendum for whaaaaat? Jeez they are free with our money!

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