PITTSFIELD -- The City Council's Finance Committee and the School Committee will meet in joint session Wednesday to discuss details of the current and fiscal 2014 school budgets.
Council at large Barry J. Clairmont spurred the meeting when he recently proposed inviting school officials to a Finance Committee meeting and to provide a budgetary update, similar to those provide by the city Finance Director Susan Carmel and members of her staff on a quarterly basis.
However, school board members declined the invitation and instead invited the council subcommittee to attend one of their meetings. That was agreed to, but not before Clairmont explained his reasoning for the request and outlined some school-related questions he hopes to have answered on Wednesday.
The two boards will meet at 6 p.m. at Pittsfield High School during a regular School Committee meeting.
"I think they are missing the point," Clairmont said during a Finance Committee meeting on Feb. 27. He said his intent was to provide more information for the taxpayer and that he believes a subcommittee meeting would be a better format for that, so that the discussion "wouldn't get lost in the shuffle" on the agenda of a full school board meeting.
"We can never make it too easy for the customer to understand, and the taxpayers are our customers," Clairmont said. "I would like to make these quarterly meetings."
The councilor also listed some questions he hopes to have answered about school
Clairmont said he then made some assumptions about possible expenses yet to be counted and still came up with a projected excess of nearly $1 million in the overall school budget for this year, which was approved at just under $55 million for the July 1 to June 30 budget year.
Contacted Thursday, School Committee Chairman Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga said his committee welcomes questions from the council members, but he said that some of the questions he has heard about "may not be based on accurate figures."
Barbalunga said Assistant Superintendent for Finance Kristen C. Behnke will present a budget report during the meeting and there will be time for questions.
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