I support Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana’s original budget and am horrified to learn that the City Council just voted 7-2 to slash it by $1.1 million. Dozens of parents, teachers and community members spoke publicly in front of the council in support of the school board’s budget over the past few hearings.

As a parent of a Reiche third-grader, I am worried about the prospect of losing teachers and therefore increased class sizes.

As co-founding director of 240 Strings, which gives subsidized classical music lessons to Portland kids, I am also worried about supporting our wonderful community of lead teachers and social workers, who make sure every child is taken care of, no matter their situation. To a child who receives these services, every single mentor counts, and if one or two of their advocates get cut from their positions, these kids can so easily fall through the cracks.

Just one example of what Portland could and should be: While we have let decades of cuts determine that elementary school children in Portland receive less than one hour per week of general music classes, other communities, like Rochester, New York, and Northborough, Massachusetts, require every child in elementary school to play an instrument in school every single day, regardless of income or circumstance.

This is valuable training in coordination, brain development, focus, discipline and literacy that Portland could also be capitalizing on. But we will never get to these important discussions if we’re cutting the services that already are in place.

Portland is a destination city. It is crucial that we become a leader in education as well.

Annie Antonacos