SHEFFIELD -- Following some town push back, the Southern Berkshire Regional School District has reduced its proposed fiscal 2015 budget by about 1 percent to $14.86 million.
The proposed budget, a 1.6 percent increase over fiscal 2014, includes the elimination of a faculty position and two aides from special education and the library, according to Finance Committee Chair Vito Valentini.
"I think [the budget is] pretty extraordinary considering we got clobbered with an 8 percent increase in health care," Valentini said last week.
The revised budget includes an overall cost increase to towns of 2.79 percent. The highest assessed town would be New Marlborough at 4.3 percent and Sheffield at 3.5 percent, while Egremont and Alford would face an assessment of less than 1.75 percent and 0.6 percent. The assessment in Monterey would decrease 0.7 percent.
The Finance Committee's revised cuts of $159,000 include cuts to 24 line items, according to Valentini. In addition to the staff cuts, there was widespread belt-tightening that covered instructional material, the computer repair budget, and other line items.
Mount Everett Regional High School is expected to identify one faculty position that will be cut, which could save the district an estimated $50,000. The district will also eliminate an elementary school faculty position at the end of the year.
The district's attendance has decreased from 776 students last year to about 762 students this year.
Far and away, health care was the largest cost increase. Expenses associated with insurance and retirement ballooned from $3.1 million to about $3.26 million. The overall salary increase for teachers was 1 percent, although the increase was 3.5 percent for employees who hadn't reached their salary ceiling.
The School Committee expects a final vote on the budget on Wednesday.
Valentini said there could be program reshuffling, but he said he doesn't anticipate the cuts impacting pupil services.
"I think it's driven by realistic needs and what we can afford."
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