Swanton School Board Renders Decision on Football Concession Stand Revenue Debate

A large contingent of the Swanton Local School District’s Band Program supporters, including faculty, parents and boosters, attended the May meeting of the Swanton Board of Education (BOE) to express their concerns over the possibility of having to share or even lose the opportunity to earn funds the program receives from running the concession stands at home football games.

The concerns arose following the April meeting of the BOE where Swanton head football coach, Denton Saunders, addressed the BOE members, asking that they consider allowing the football team to be involved in the running of the concessions and sharing in the proceeds.  The back story that created the issue began during the pandemic-affected 2020 football season when the band boosters chose not to run the concession stands, citing worries about the health and safety of students and parents, and the football team supporters took it over for the four-game home schedule.

Coach Saunders recommended three options to the Board.  One – have the football program assume full control over the concessions and keep all proceeds.  Two – have two separate concession stands run by the respective programs, each keeping the funds they generate.  Three – have the two programs work together and divide the proceeds accordingly.  Mr. Saunders did tell the Board he favored the third option.

Early in the May meeting, the BOE allowed the public to make comments and Pam Kazmierczak, retired Band Director at Swanton, spoke first.  Ms. Kazmierczak handed each Board member a four-page document which contained over 20 questions, along with explanations, regarding the challenges and considerations any volunteer group would need to work out before taking over including logistics, scheduling, record keeping, maintenance and, most importantly, the impact the change would have on the District’s entire band program which extends down to the fifth grade.

In closing, Ms. Kazmierczak, who had a son play on the Bulldog football team and in the Bulldog Marching Band, said, “I think both band and football have a lot to offer the students of Swanton and I would like both programs to continue to flourish.  However, one should not flourish at the expense of the other.”

Later in the meeting, the current Swanton High School and Middle School Band Director, Samantha Preisner, addressed the Board.  She listed some of the many programs, services and scholarships offered to the students through the Band Program and Music Department, much of which is funded by the Band Boosters including contracting with other sectional-specific instructors. 

Ms. Preisner also reminded everyone, that being involved in the band is virtually a year-round commitment which includes band concerts, marching band adjudicated competitions, basketball pep band, seasonal parades, summer band camp and graduation as well as the football halftime performances.  She pointed out, by way of Swanton Local Schools supplemental contracts, that estimated per pupil spending for band is $104 and for football is $376.

Others speaking in favor of maintaining the current arrangement were former Swanton student and band member Haylee Pelland and band parent and long-time Band Booster member Dawn Santchi.  Ms. Pelland related how important the band activities were to her during her high school career and how they should continue to be adequately funded.  Ms. Santchi, who has had two sons in the program, took exception to Coach Saunders’ request to tap into the band’s fund-raising program to benefit his football team.  “If the football team is over their budget, they need to be creative and hold more fund raisers.  Not take money away from our band,” commented Ms. Santchi.

At the end of the evening the Swanton School Board ruled in favor of the Band Program and denied the request by Coach Saunders.  Additionally, the BOE allocated more funds to pay for sectional coaches.

Pictured:  Swanton Band Director Samantha Preisner addresses the Board of Education

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