OXFORD – Scores of people from across the country have contacted SAD 17 Superintendent Mark Eastman since the district was featured as Person of the Week on “ABC World News with Charles Gibson” on Friday evening.

“It’s been really interesting,” Eastman said of the response to the nationally broadcast story about school employees’ decision to give a day’s pay to save seven jobs from the cutting board this school year.

The story not only gave the school district national attention but even helped increase its coffers.

Jack and Karen Eastman of Kingwood, Texas, said they were so moved by the story they decided to send a small check to help out the budget shortfall.

“As an Eastman, we decided to help out,” wrote the couple who are no relation to the superintendent.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Eastman, who found a $100 check enclosed with the note.

A social worker from Arizona wrote to say she would like to send a check also, Eastman said. “It’s really thoughtful.”

A man from New Hampshire e-mailed the superintendent saying that despite hard times the employees’ actions “proved to this viewer the core of most people is goodness and helpfulness. … The human spirit in Oxford, Maine, is alive and well.”

A Long Island, N.Y., man wrote “One job loss in any school is one too many.”

Although he heard from friends and families members across the country, Eastman said most of the response has been from people he has never heard of and from places such as Florida, Arizona, Utah and Texas, among others.

And they spoke of their admiration for the generosity of the Oxford Hills School District workers.

A total of 375 of the 605 district employees offered to give a day’s pay to stave off a $70,000 budget cut due to the state cutting its aid to schools for 2008-09.

Money raised beyond the $70,000 goal will go toward the next budget year, which begins on July 1, Eastman said. It will be accounted for and visible to taxpayers in a separate account, he said.

Eastman said it was important that administrators model the idea by being among the first to say they would give up a day’s pay. “It was good modeling. A lot of people decided to go with us,” he said.

Those who couldn’t afford to do it or didn’t want to do it were not pressured to join in, he said.

“This was voluntary,” Eastman said. “Everyone is different. Not everyone can afford to do it or agree with it philosophically.”

The administrators had no idea how well the plan would be accepted. “We knew we had a giving community. This was really amazing,” he said of the contributions.


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