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Potsdam music supporters warned cuts may reappear next year

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POTSDAM — While the Potsdam Central School District Board of Education may have reversed the proposed cuts in its music department for the next school year, board President Christopher C. Cowen warned that, unless things get better, the cuts are likely to reappear in next year’s budget deliberations.

After receiving a standing ovation from the more than 60 students and community members in attendance at the school board meeting Monday night at Potsdam High School, Mr. Cowen warned that the battle to preserve the district’s music department may not be over yet.

“This is a very trying time,” he said. “We are probably going to be right back here next year.”

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady noted that, according to projections, the district also likely will be facing large budget gaps next year and the year after that.

Business Manager Laura A. Hart has used “a variety of assumptions on salaries and benefits, such as pensions, as well as revenue,” he said, noting the district is projecting a $1.3 million budget gap for next year and a $2.5 million budget gap for the year after that. “That’s with using the remainder of our fund balance and reserves.”

Mr. Cowen credited community members for advocating for the program.

“You folks have done an excellent job doing what you had to do to get that position restored,” Mr. Cowen said, encouraging those who haven’t already lobbied the legislature for more education funding for schools in the north country to take on that fight as well.

“We want everybody out there to advocate for what we’ve been advocating for and that’s more funding for education,” Mr. Cowen said.

He also said he hopes that members of the public understand no one wants to make cuts to the district’s music department or any department.

“There’s nobody that’s sitting on this board that’s against any of our programs,” he said.

The district’s budget proposal originally had called for 1.5 music positions to be cut. However, prior to the board’s last finance committee meeting, one of those positions was added back into the budget, leaving only the half-time cut. That was restored following a board vote Monday night.

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