DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Several SAD 68 residents spoke out Tuesday against the cuts made in art and music that are included in the 2011 budget.
Despite the comments, SAD 68 directors voted to send the $9,165,850 budget as proposed, to voters for action at the May 25 district budget meeting. A 6 p.m. public informational session will precede the 6:30 p.m. budget meeting. The budget validation referendum required by law will be held on June 8.
The budget, which reflects a decrease of about $44,000 from the current year, includes the elimination of a part-time art teacher and a part-time music teacher. It also eliminates a special education teacher, a physical education-health teacher and a middle school counselor. For stipend positions, the budget eliminates 12 academic team leaders, four staff development positions, nine curriculum development positions and two technology assistant positions.
“This board has done very well to minimize any true position that kids could potentially lose out on,” SAD 68 Superintendent Alan Smith said Tuesday. The pupils will still receive music and art instruction, he noted.
Foxcroft Academy has agreed to help the district with the kindergarten through grade three music, or vocal, program, according to Smith. Pupils in grades two through eight will have the same amount of art instruction they now have, with the exception of seventh grade, which doesn’t now receive art but will next year, he said. Kindergarten and first-grade pupils will have an art teacher for part of the year and will receive art instruction the rest of the year from the classroom teacher.
But some residents felt that any cut in the arts is too much.
Tracy Michaud Stutzman, who works for a nonprofit organization based around the arts, said she understood that these are tough economic times. She said she has had to make cuts in her own organization but noted there are fundamentals that she won’t go below.
“I do this work in arts and crafts because I believe so passionately in how it changes people’s lives,” Stutzman said. In addition, she said research shows that arts and music help develop the brain patterns in very young children, which in turn helps them better understand the concepts of mathematics and science. Stutzman said the board’s decision would weigh on where she enrolled her child next year.
“Think creatively and find the money somewhere to put that [art and music] back in,” Stutzman said.
Corey Thompson, a Foxcroft Academy sophomore, pleaded with the directors to “save the music program for future generations.” Thompson said he started playing trumpet in fifth grade and has played it ever since, participating in the concert, jazz and pit bands at FA.
“Without the music program, what would I have done with my time?” he asked.
Music helps keep children out of trouble, he said.
Professional music educator Arnie Poland of Dover-Foxcroft supported Thompson’s statement.
“Studies have shown that schools that cut arts programs with[in] the next three years have to spend more money on education because test scores will go down,” he said. “Within three years, every school that cut art showed a decrease in morale, attendance and an increase in vandalism and destruction.”
“Music and fine arts do enhance student learning,” Poland added.