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More music meetings for Wausau School officials

by
Superintendent Kathleen Williams office
Superintendent Kathleen Williams office

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - There have been plenty of internal meetings at the Wausau School District due to the musical performance issues brought to light last Friday.

At around 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, the district announced there will be a special school board meeting at the Wausau East Auditorium Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. immediately after the board meets in closed session with administrators and legal counsel.

Just after 7:20 p.m. Tuesday night, Superintendent Kathleen Williams issued a statement confirming a meeting with Wausau West choral music instructor Phil Buch on Wednesday to “discuss how the Master Singers winter performances can continue in a way that satisfies high musical quality and constitutional requirements.”

Also in her statement, Superintendent Williams claims several earlier reports about the district’s holiday music policies have caused significant misunderstanding. One point that has upset the public and some school board members is a requirement to have five non-religious songs for every religious song in a school program. Williams met with music selection committee members Tuesday, and says, “No set ratio of religious songs versus non-religious songs was ever established as part of committee review.”

What’s not clear is where that 5-to-1 ratio came from.

Williams has been flooded with media interview requests, and she did grant one television interview. Williams told WAOW television Tuesday she wants to find a resolution for everyone, saying, “The goal is to make sure that students do not feel coerced into performing songs that make them feel very uncomfortable” adding, “The other goal is to not endorse any religion, so to speak, within that concert frame, and additionally, to be religious-neutral in terms of what we’re promoting.”

The special meeting of the school board is Thursday at Wausau East High School Auditorium beginning at 6:30 p.m. The board and administration is expecting a large turnout and many public comments.

Williams says people should expect secondary school winter concerts to (quote) “contain a mixture of secular and non-secular music very similar to the mixture of music from previous concerts.

The administrator has been meeting with staff and legal counsel all week on these issues. School Board members have expressed concern about being left out of the process to change how rules on music were to be enforced.

(The Superintendent’s statement is attached, below the photo.)

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