Money for school music teacher recommended

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OXFORD — Oxford Hills School District Superintendent Rick Colpitts has recommended restoring $23,000 of the $60,000 cut from the music department to enable the continuation of instrumental, chorus and string lessons.

The recent move was made as part of a series of restorations to the preliminary budget, amounting to $129,000. Other restorations include $40,000 for an elementary guidance/health position, $20,000 for the athletic department that Colpitts said may reinstate the wrestling program, $18,000 for a high school custodian and $40,000 for literacy coach interventionist position.

The savings come from a 6.5 percent increase in health insurance costs rather than the 10 percent increase school officials built into the preliminary budget.

“The $23,000 will be used to restore a half-time music teaching position.

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“This will enable the music department to maintain all instrumental lessons, chorus and string lessons,” Colpitts said.

Last month residents learned that $60,000 was being cut from the music department. The amount represents the cost of a retiring music teacher plus benefits. The $23,000 represents the cost of a half-time music teacher with prorated benefits, Colpitts said.

A number of residents and school staff have voiced concern about the original music program cuts, including Colpitts, who said cuts to the music program were extremely troubling.

“Music was my most important class in college. You’re preaching to the choir,” Colpitts told a group of school staff and residents at a Norway preliminary budget hearing last month.

School officials have been attempting to preserve as much programming and services as possible. The preliminary budget for 2011-12 was about $34 million.

The next step in the process is the approval of the preliminary budget by the full Board of Directors at its May 16 meeting.

The two-part budget approval process will include a budget hearing at 7 p.m. June 9 in the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Forum in Paris, followed by a budget validation referendum June 14.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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