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Editorial: Mohawk drama

From what we can tell, you won’t find anyone who thinks that the investment that Mohawk Trail Regional School made in reviving its dramatic arts was a waste of money.

Bringing in the talents of Jonathan Diamond as drama coordinator on a half-time basis while hiring Scott Halligan as full-time music director set the stage for a successful year — just ask those involved in the staging of “The Hobbit,” a production that was enthusiastically received.

But such an effort, as the Mohawk community has learned, comes at a price — one that the district administration has decided it can’t sustain.

“We felt we needed to revitalized this program,” Mohawk Superintendent Michael Buoniconti said. “We needed to do something for the kids, to bring things back and I broke all the rules to push for this (half-time) position.”

“Breaking the rules” in this case apparently meant a willingness to provide Diamond with $25,000 and full-time benefits.

Now, administrators have budgeted a $10,000 stipend for a three-month drama coach, someone who would work between January and March.

That’s quite a difference ... and, we think, not a well-thought-out or well-timed difference.

Where was the forethought when it came to look beyond that initial splash that this plan was expected, and did, create? Did the administration not think about sustaining the momentum created by this year and what the ramifications might be in what has to be seen as a dramatic step back?

Buoniconti may be correct that the financial aspects of a half-time position, especially where benefits are part of the package, is detrimental to the district. Not everything, though, can be measured in dollars and cents, even when talking about a school district and its budget.

And let’s not forget that Mohawk’s total budget is more than $17 million.

In talking about high school drama clubs and production, time plays a big part.

We agree with those parents and others who are concerned that the planned schedule puts the new person and the program at a disadvantage in leaving little room to drum up interest taking part in the drama club or a theatrical production.

Does all this mean that based upon this year’s foundation, theater at Mohawk can’t continue its revival? Of course not. But it does become imperative to find the right individual for the job, one who will bring their talents, enthusiasm and energy full bore from the moment they step inside the doors.

And the school administration is going to have to do its share in ensuring that individual gets whatever support they need in the short and long term.

That also means developing a long-term plan so the curtain doesn’t come down anytime soon ... and we’d urge taking another look at fully funding the position.

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