BAR HARBOR — Changes to the Conners Emerson School music program that will result in a 40 percent cut to music teacher Joe Wainer’s position next fall will remain in place, school committee members said at a specially scheduled session Monday. Their actions came despite residents having increased the school budget by $26,000 at town meeting last week for the purpose of keeping the position full time.
The money raised by town meeting voters should and will be used for music enrichment, committee members agreed. But the school’s plans to cut Wainer’s grade seven and eight music theory classes from the curriculum in favor of increased social studies and science education will remain in place, they said.
The move is necessary because the school currently teaches grades seven and eight an average of 36 percent less science and social studies, but teaches those same students 80 percent more music than other middle schools in the district, principal Barb Neilly said. Conners Emerson has not been reaching curriculum goals for these academic subjects, and eliminating music theory for grades seven and eight will allow teachers to fill those gaps, she said.
School committee members were firm in asserting that their decision was not about cutting the arts but about finding the best balance for all students.
Under Maine law, voters at town meeting can set budgets, but can only recommend, not mandate, how the money should be spent.
The school committee did not take formal action but was unanimous in their agreement to have Principal Neilly form a committee, including community members, to come up with innovative ways to spend the $26,000 on music education and enrichment for grades seven and eight. School superintendent Howard Colter introduced the idea saying that activities could include workshops and concerts with professional musicians and visits to the symphony.