GREAT BARRINGTON -- Supporters of the Monument Mountain High School musical program say they will continue to press for answers about why $20,000 worth of equipment, props and set construction material was thrown away this summer.
Members of the Spring Musical Booster Club packed the Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee meeting last week demanding answers -- and funds -- to replace the lost equipment.
The School Committee expressed sympathy, but delayed any action for a later meeting. Chairman Stephen Bannon requested an explanation from school officials.
"I'd like to have a report from the administration ... how they saw this happening, where the breakdowns [in communication] were and what their solution is, if there is one," Bannon said during the meeting.
In July, music supporters say, equipment stored in a stage pit and around the stage was thrown away. They said the pit contained more than $1,000 worth of custom black metal pipe railing alone, in addition to items such as flats, knee walls, platforms, doors, windows, hardware, stairs, fences, gangplanks, and more -- all items assembled over the last 15 years through hundreds of hours of work done by volunteer students and parents.
School officials say the Great Barrington Fire Department and state Department of Education for years have been raising safety concerns about the equipment.
Monument Principal Marianne Young has said there were repeated warnings to boosters to move the material, including an e-mail sent to spring musical director Linnea Mace this summer. After she didn't get a response, Young said she took matters into her own hands.
Mace could not be reached for comment.
Still, boosters wonder why the material wasn't moved to a garage near the tennis courts, which Young had offered as a storage area.
Young and district Director of Operations Steve Soules, who had staff help remove the material, did not speak during the meeting.
Ron Piazza, a supporter of the musical program, said Young offered the program $3,000 from a theater account to help pay for the losses. But that wasn't enough, the Richmond resident said.
"We would like $10,000 deposited into the Monument Mountain musical fund to further development of our program," he said. "We were hurt [by the action] ... We can't put on productions we want to because we would have to replace all this material."
During the meeting, Stockbridge resident Gail Shaw expressed her frustration.
Shaw's granddaughter transferred from a private school to Monument Mountain High School in part because of the musical program.
"She is devastated," Shaw said. "She in addition to what is the rest theater department deserve an honest and swift explanation about how this happened and what you're going to do to repair it."