Orchestra program assured at Port Townsend School District

Position now part-time, superintendent says

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School District will have an orchestra program this coming school year.

There had been concerns among students, parents and music boosters about the future of the program after teacher Daniel Ferland resigned suddenly in June, Superintendent Linda Rosenbury said.

“I know there had been a lot of discussion about is music being cut or are we still supporting it,” Rosenbury said. “We are not cutting it, we are still supporting it and I want anyone who is concerned or hears something to come directly to me or one of the principals to verify that.”

The district will retain an orchestra teacher, but it is now a part-time (.6 FTE) rather than a full-time job. That person will still teach every day, in the morning at the high school and then at Blue Heron Middle School, but it’s not a full schedule.

“We were able to interview four strong candidates and we hope to make an announcement soon,” Rosenbury said.

Rosenbury, who became superintendent in 2021, said she was drawn to Port Townsend because of its strong music programs.

“I understand people get nervous about [orchestra] being taken away,” Rosenebury said. “The district has financial challenges and we are making tough choices, but we are currently able to maintain this.”

Discussion about the orchestra came in a directors’ meeting that immediately followed a public hearing for the 2023-2024 school budget of $25,117,354, plus the 2025-25 through 2026-27 forecasted budgets.

Amy Khile, the director of finance and business operations, said the district took a conservative approach to developing the budget. It anticipated declining federal support — primarily from the end of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSR) funding and from the state because of the district’s fairly stagnant enrollment. In addition, because the number of students in the district experiencing poverty has declined, it has lost almost $400,000 in Title I funding for next year

Built into the four-year budget are steps toward meeting the district’s goal of reserve funds of 8 percent, which it anticipates reaching in 2025-2026. Its current reserves stand at 4.85 percent.

Directors Simon Little, Jennifer James Williams and John Nowak voted unanimously to adopt the 2023-2024 budget measure; directors Doug Ross and Nathanael O’Hara had excused absences from the meeting.


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com