Music Program will be Reduced, But Not as Much as First Feared

Overall, number of staff cuts are down, Superintendent Ann Koufman said.

What the music programs in the elementary and middle school levels will look like next year is not certain, but the instrumental music program will be there - something that was not assured earlier this year.

The Watertown Public Schools' fiscal 2012 budget situation has improved since February when the School Committee was looking at possibly cutting the instrumental music program for elementary and middle school students.

The proposal who had gotten their start in music when they were in elementary school and now attend Watertown High School.

At Monday's School Committee Budget and Finance Subcommittee meeting, Director of Business Services Allie Altman told the members that the district would lose the equivalent of 1.5 full-time music teachers, and three are three remaining in the elementary schools.

The music teachers will meet this week to see what they how they can change the program, Altman said.

"The idea is to have all the music teachers look at the problem and work out a solution," Altman said.

Superintendent Ann Koufman said efforts will be made to maintain the music program.

"We can't offer the full program, but we will do the best we can with what we have got," Koufman said.

Overall, the number of staff cuts are lower than discussed even a month ago, Koufman said. She now expects to received the $400,000 in special education Circuit Breaker money from the state, and were told the town could provide a 2 percent budget increase from from the current year.

The district will likely lose two to four classroom teachers, instead of eight to 10 as anticipated when Koufman made her budget presentation. Watertown will also lose four to six non-classroom teachers, which is down from five to seven in the first presentation.

The teacher loses could have been fewer, but school officials received news that a larger group than normal will go to Minuteman Career & Technical High School. Altman said 14 students from Watertown will graduate from the Lexington-based school, but new students will enter the school.

The additional students will add $228,000 to the district's Minuteman tuition payments, Altman said.

Parent Matt MacDonald asked the School Committee about the step increases given to teachers, which will increase by $466,000 next year. He noted that cutting those costs would save some jobs, and asked whether the committee has asked teachers to about giving up the step raises.

School Committee Chairman Anthony Paolillo said he could not go into much detail because they are in negotiations with the teachers union, but said the matter has been brought up in the past.

Michelle Bowlin July 19, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I am a working musician who got her startin Watertown Public Schools. Jack Hahn and his colleagues lit a spark in me that will never be extinguished. I love going to work everyday because I love what I do. My love for music came from those special professionals called music teachers. I am proud to be in their ranks. Before you consider cutting the lower grade's access to music, look at the research. Children retain information better with music, learn discipline through music, strengthen relationships through music and create lasting memories through music. Isn't that worth the investment? Michelle McMullin Bowlin Class of 1984


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