OXFORD — The Oxford Hills School District’s Board of Directors gave the go-ahead Monday night for Superintendent Mark Eastman to move forward with a conceptual plan to reduce the number of elementary school principals from eight to three.

 According to the plan, Norway, Waterford and Harrison elementary schools would have one principal and two assistant principals; Paris, West Paris and Hebron elementary schools would have one principal and two assistant principals; and Otisfield and Oxford elementary schools would have one principal and one assistant principal.

The plan would also include moving some fifth and sixth graders from smaller schools to larger ones and restructuring staff.

 Those changes would save about $250,000 in administrative costs and another $500,000 in instructional costs to help meet the more than $4 million revenue loss expected in the next two years.

Community meetings on the plan will begin this week.

“We need feedback in the towns affected,” said Eastman as he gave an overview of the proposal to the Board of Directors.

The move is one of the ways to meet “incredible revenue losses” in the next two years, Eastman has said.

“In a normal budget year, what we’re recommending we would not be recommending,” he said.

  Eastman said other alternatives to reduce the budget deficit that are not favored include closing some of the smaller schools, combining grades and redistricting. It is unclear yet whether the Board of Directors will favor an increase in local assessments as another method to meet budget cuts.

Eastman called the move to cluster schools a “sustainable” idea, one that could have long-range budget effects. It would also, in part, help deal with declining enrollments, which have been as high as a 28 percent loss of students in Harrison and Oxford over the last 15 years, he said.

A number of other short-term and long-range ideas are also being floated as school officials look for ways to meet unprecedented cuts in the state aid to school in the future.

Eastman will meet with residents in Waterford on Feb. 3; West Paris on Feb. 9; and Otisfield on Feb. 11. All meetings are at the elementary schools and begin at 7 p.m.

The Board of Directors must approve the plan before it can be implemented. The budget committee and personnel committee have already approved it.

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