Forgetful or Liar?
That's the question when it comes to Knucklehead School Superintendant James Browder. He denied Fort Myers Band Students a trip to London because of terrorism concerns. Browder even claiming he never authorized any school sponsored international trips in the past.
The News-Press reports that Browder has. Back in 2004.
In March 2004, a choral and orchestra group from Cypress Lake High toured Austria, Germany and France on a school-sanctioned trip. Browder had been the Lee County superintendent for a full year before the group left Fort Myers.
Two years earlier, when he was the Fort Myers High principal, he allowed students to perform on a cruise ship headed to the Bahamas.
Both trips, he said Wednesday, were in the works before he became principal and then superintendent, and fundraising efforts were under way and travel plans were set before he took the helm.
"They had nothing to do with me," Browder said. "In my tenure as superintendent, I'm fairly certain I've never approved anything international."
The News-Press on March 30 requested a list of out-of-state and out-of-country student trips. As of Wednesday, the district had provided reports from only Lee elementary schools. Middle and high school reports were not made available.
Cypress' trip was approved in the fall of 2003. Browder became superintendent in March 2003.
Was Browder lying or did these trips just slip his mind? A great many things happen in three to four years and Browder I'm sure has alot of work on his hands. Still I can't help think his denial was just more stubborness after being made a fool of. I've said it before, some public officials rather dig in than ever admit a mistake how matter how big or small it is.
There is good news. A vote of the parents were done and the trip is on. The band needs to raise $70,000 to be able to go. Here is the address to send contributions-
Fort Myers High School
Attn: Marching Band
2635 Cortez Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Note Browder's comment in the article below. He is still a knucklehead.
Open Post- Right Wing Nation, Outside the Beltway, Bright & Early,
Rev up the double-decker bus and tune the trombone.
Fort Myers High's band is headed to London.
Parents voted Thursday to send the marching band to London for its New Year's Day parade, thus ending an international debate about risks of terrorism in the U.K., safety of traveling abroad and who — parents or the superintendent — should give the OK for costly overseas trips.
"It's great to have a victory after we fought so hard for it," said band member Maria Tomlinson, 16.
The band needed 93 parents to vote yes out of 116 band members to meet the 80-percent approval threshold that school board members set Tuesday. The final count Thursday night was 101-3. The 12 no-shows, Principal Richard Shafer said, could not be reached by telephone to even make them aware of the vote.
Schools chief James Browder nixed the proposed band trip based on the threat of terrorism and general safety concerns. He later expressed doubt that boosters could raise the entire sum, estimated at $233,400 for 120 students, and another $38,900 for 20 chaperones.
The issue appeared to be dead until word got back to London as to why Fort Myers couldn't accept the parade invitation. Brits balked, crying foul that Americans think London wasn't a safe city. Eventually, a series of stories from The News-Press made their way around the world, via news-press.com and The Associated Press, drawing harsh criticism from near and far.
Browder was steadfast in his position, but Lee school board members trumped him, agreeing Tuesday to let parents have the final say.
Dozens of band students and their parents heard the news Thursday evening in Atlanta, where they're on a four-day pleasure trip. Although they were celebrating poolside over pizza, a victory at the ballot box wasn't the last hurdle facing the band.
"We're thrilled," said Rose-Anne Costigan, president of the band booster club. "But it's going to set in soon, what do we do next?"
Raise money. Lots and lots of money.
The school must mail a $70,000 payment to London by the end of May. The on-again, off-again scenario has put the band behind a full month in its fundraising efforts.
Browder said the community, especially those who blasted his decision, must rally around the band to make sure it has enough cash.
"I'll be real critical of those people that have criticized me if they don't step up and put their money where their mouth is," Browder said.
Band director Mark Dahlberg hopes the community sees Fort Myers High as its band, with everybody pitching in to make students' dream a reality. Students won't be counting on all of the publicity to generate cash; band members already are planning car washes, a golf tournament, raffle and other fundraisers, starting as soon as next week.
"I'm hoping we can keep the excitement going, because along with that, the students will want to continue fundraising," Dahlberg said. "If we lose interest and don't raise the money, we don't go."