ANDERSON, Ind. —
The band director who led the Marching Highlanders to four state championships is leaving his post.
Doug Fletcher, Anderson High School band director, announced Tuesday that he will leave at the end of the year for a position in Winchester, his former district.
Fletcher gathered his band students in the band room and broke the news at 8:25 a.m. Tuesday and then sent an email to band parents explaining his decision.
“They were sad and surprised and I think concerned, but as I told them, they need to come together here and give the new person a chance,” Fletcher said of his students.
Fletcher said he’s decided to leave the Anderson Community School Corp. because Winchester has a more attractive financial and benefits package and because the reasons he came to Anderson are no longer there.
Fletcher left Winchester High School in 1998 and took the band director position at Highland High School. He is a native of Anderson.
“There were two reasons I left Winchester. Highland was considered to be my dream job. It’s where I intended on spending the rest of my career. There is no longer a Highland High School. I also wanted to spend time with my folks. I wanted to help them before they passed.
“It’s not that I have anything against Anderson High School. I’ve gotten tremendous support,” he said.
If he’d stayed at Anderson next year, Fletcher would have taken a 3 percent pay cut with the rest of the teachers on top of a 10 percent cut to the fee he’s paid for directing the band. He’d also be forced to pay higher premiums for health insurance under the new teachers contract.
At Winchester, Fletcher said, band directors are considered administrators, and he’d be paid as such.
“When I did all of the figuring and the math, it’s just a better situation for me financially,” Fletcher said.
Beth Clark, personnel director for ACS, said the district hasn’t received a notice of resignation from Fletcher.
Fletcher said he’ll likely turn in that resignation on Wednesday after officials at Winchester approve his hiring.
Fletcher said he was also discouraged by the announcement that Anderson High School won’t have an assistant band director. Clark said she wasn’t aware of any decision being made regarding that position, but Fletcher said he heard the news from Anderson High School Principal Lucinda McCord.
Fletcher said the band cannot be led effectively with just one person at the helm. “When I considered working even harder for a little less money, that played into it,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said the band lost some of its best performing students this year as parents sent their children to neighboring school districts, upset with consolidation decisions made by ACS. “We’ve lost a lot of our good kids and that’s unfortunate.”
Even so, Fletcher doesn’t want to speak ill of the district he spent the last 13 years with. “I don’t want this sounding like I have this vendetta against Anderson schools. I feel like I have a better opportunity financially and in terms of my own welfare.”
Band parent and leader of school breakaway group the Madison County School Alliance Troy Abbott said the news of Fletcher’s departure is disappointing.
“It’s just a very sad day when you have something that’s been so strong and so good in Anderson and we’re going to lose it now.
“He was a statewide icon for music departments to follow. That was a great loss to this community,” Abbott said.
Contact Brandi Watters: 640-4847, email@example.com