Sign of the Times: No more totally free classes for volunteers at Old Town School

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Old Town School
  • Old Town School
Last Friday, the Old Town School of Folk Music notified its 600 or so volunteers that they'll have to add some cash to the volunteer points they've been using to pay for classes, starting with the term that begins in January. Not a lot of cash: $20 for an eight-week class; $40 for 16 weeks.

That's still a pretty sweet deal, since eight-week classes are typically about $170.

But at least one volunteer thinks some advance notice would have been good.

James Seidler, who's been earning and banking Old Town School points for a year, says he would have appreciated the chance to use them under the agreement that was in force when he volunteered. "I love the Old Town School, and this is a minor tick in the grand scheme of things, but we had a deal and they scuttled it. There should have been a transition period," Seidler says.

Executive director Bau Graves blames the recessionary economy and the fact that there's still $5 million to be raised on a $17 million capital campaign for the new building the school opened last year across the street from its flagship.

"We're a healthy organization," Graves says. "We generate about 87 percent of our budget through earned income, but we've had to manage our budget very carefully this year." The big change, Graves says, amounts to $2.50 per class session.

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