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Cutting music program back called unwise

Proposed cuts to the music program in the Eden School District struck a sour note Wednesday night as parents, students and some teachers asked the School Board to reconsider its decision.

"Music is an integral part of a well-rounded student," parent Barbara Henry told the board. She said cuts to the program would be detrimental to both the students and the community.

Dozens of parents were on hand to address the board about the issue after hearing that a full-time teacher's position was cut to half a position in the 2007-08 budget adopted by the board March 29, a cut the board attributed to declining enrollment.

In a lengthy public comment period, many parents and students, including recent graduates of the school, said they feared that the cuts would affect areas including the string and jazz programs. School Board member Kate Riedel said, however, "We don't anticipate any cuts in programs."

Carol King, a parent and teacher, told the board that it was wrong to cut curriculum while adding sports programs.

She said she could not comprehend why, "when the fiscal belt needs to be tightened," it is the music department that suffers. "Music continues to enrich all our lives," she said.

Another resident said she was surprised that the board passed the budget during a recent budget meeting instead of in a regularly scheduled board meeting.

The 2007-08 budget came in at $23,644,500, which represents a 5.3 percent increase in expenditures over this year's budget, and an estimated increase of 5.8 percent, or $1.23 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, in the tax levy, district Finance Director Lisa A. Almasi said Wednesday night. "Although there are some cuts and changes in staffing, the board and administration feel this is a very responsible budget, allowing the district to maintain the current level of services to our students, despite declining enrollment," she said.

Residents will vote on the budget and other propositions and elect three School Board members May 15.

e-mail: hjones@buffnews.com

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