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Junior Prom and Senior Ball will now be combined

6/5/17

Dear Schalmont High School Community,

The Junior Prom and Senior Ball have been a long standing tradition at Schalmont. Every year our classes spend a considerable amount of time and energy fundraising and planning for these events, and the costs involved to run these events has risen continuously over the years. girl in a pink dress with flowers on her wrist

This year the prom cost over $8,000 and the ball was over $9,000. While we recognize the value of these traditional events and the enjoyment of students and their families at our walkthrough, the increasing costs and disruption to instruction has required us to consider changes going forward.

As we plan for 2017-2018, we have run into a roadblock with scheduling two events. May 18, 2018 is the only Friday night available without a testing conflict. On May 5th there are SAT’s, May 11th is the US History AP exam, May 15th is the AP Calculus Exam and May 16th is the AP English Exam. May 25th is the Friday of Memorial Weekend, June 1st is the Senior Banquet and June 8th is the last day of school and Senior Picnic.

In addition to next year’s scheduling issues, having two formal events limits our ability to schedule sporting events for students without forcing them to choose between their team and a school event.

As a result, I felt a conversation about combining events should take place with the current class officers in order to make a decision. This has been a topic of discussion for a few years now, but with the scheduling issue next year it seemed to be the right time to seriously consider a change and make a decision to start a new tradition.

Additionally, in researching how other schools schedule such events, we discovered that many area districts, some even larger than us, have already shifted to one event. For example, our neighboring district Mohonasen recently moved to one event and Scotia-Glenville has held a single junior/senior dance for some time. In addition to the concerns already mentioned we also took into account students missing class time, our declining enrollment, and the increasing costs of these events.

Missing Class Time: For the prom and ball we release participating students at 10:00 a.m. on the day of the event. This has allowed the students’ time to prepare for the evening and for staff to set up for the evening. By dismissing at 10:00, those students miss 210 minutes of class instruction. It also changes the learning environment when half or more of the class is missing. For those students who attend both prom and ball, they miss a total of seven hours of instruction. By combining this event, we gain back more than a half-day of classroom instruction for those students.

Declining Numbers/Increasing Costs: As a district, we have seen a continual and steady decline in student enrollment which is forecasted to continue. Last year only 107 tickets were sold to the prom out of a class of over 150. While numbers can vary a little bit, it’s difficult to secure venues for that low number of attendees. By combining these events, we could have more than 200 students participating. This opens up more venue options and lowers the overall cost per student. For students who attended both dances, this would decrease the family’s expenses for tickets, clothes, limo, etc. by only having to pay for one event.

In addition, the school district incurs costs associated with creating a safe and structured night for that event. We bring in additional custodians to help with setting up the walkthrough areas as well as the outside circle. We have to hire police to help manage crowds and direct parking. Due to the increasing financial concerns we face as a district, it is important to review these additional expenses.

After meeting with the class officers and advisors and reviewing all of these factors, it was agreed that combining the events is the best course of action going forward. In our meeting we discussed how to set up the event so it is fair for both classes, and we discussed how to break down costs per grade.

I want to commend the student officers who really wrestled with this tough decision. They made a difficult choice and chose a mature and responsible course of action for their classmates. While I know change can be difficult, this is the right move to make in these times and I think that, overall, the students will have a much better experience being able to celebrate with both grades.

Sincerely,

Imran Abbasi