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Forest Grove school board passes budget 4-1, with one change

School board adds a K-4 music education teacher to staff budget proposal that will cut $3.1 million

The Forest Grove School Board passed a district budget that included $3.1 million in cuts as proposed by the district superintendent, but with the addition of funding for a music education position.

The budget funds the school district at $49.1 million, a reduction from the current year's budget of roughly 6 percent.

As the board deliberated Monday night, it was clear that the politics that drove citizen activists to mount a recall of two board members last year following the adoption of a budget that cut $7.5 million from the district's operations were not forgotten.

Following initial consideration of the budget, school board member John Hayes, who was appointed this year to fill one of the two seats left vacant following the recall, offered an amendment to restore an elementary music instructor to the budget.

The amendment passed with Kate Grandusky, and Alisa Hampton supporting Hayes.

School board member Fred Marble said he wanted to know where the roughly $100,000 in salary and benefits for the position would come from before he could sign on.

Board member Gil Jimenez said he didn't like singling out one position over others.

But the three-vote majority which amended the budget couldn't pass it. Grandusky, who campaigned hard last year and unseated an incumbent school board member by often siding with citizens that organized the recall effort, was the swing vote.

She wanted the board to add more positions, particularly in elementary school libraries, back to the budget.

Hayes then asked Grandusky, Marble and Jimenez to state their reasons for voting against the budget.

After hearing their positions, Hayes offered his: Music and arts always get cut first so the position should be restored to show the community, including those that voted to recall two board members, that the board was taking their concerns into account.

District business manager Mike Schofield then said there was wiggle room in any budget and that the directive to add back a music position was within his "comfort zone."

That moved Marble and Jimenez, who joined Hampton and Hayes to pass the amended budget 4-1.