SHEFFIELD -- The Southern Berkshire Regional School District has approved a budget for fiscal 2015 that will cut fewer positions than initially expected.
The $14.92 million budget represents a 1.9 percent spending increase over the current spending plan, and calls for an average increase of 2.79 percent to member towns.
"I really believe this budget is about as good a budget we can put together," said School Committee member Vito Valentini, who helped draft the budget.
The approval came only after some dealmaking between the teachers union and district to free up $90,000 -- enough to preserve some of the nine positions that initially had been proposed for elimination.
The bottom line for towns’ individual assessments will remain unchanged. New Marlborough residents would see an increase of 4.3 percent and Sheffield would go up 3.5 percent; Egremont and Alford would see an increase of 0.6 percent and 1.73 percent, respectively; and Monterey’s assessment would decrease 0.6 percent.
The deal was reached after the union voted to accept a furlough day next year, while the district will provide about $65,000 through line-item adjustments, re-evaluation of student choice funds, and possibly reserves.
Nine positions have been recommended for elimination in the budget, although some of those employees are expected to retire. Among the employees that won’t be retiring include two part-time teachers who teach a daily single class, aides, a district technology support employee and a Mount Everett Regional teacher.
While the School Committee voted and approved the budget, the district will still have the discretion to adjust spending within the current framework.
Superintendent David Hastings said he still had not heard back yet from the teachers union Thursday on their recommendations. Hastings would need to approve any changes.
He said some the staff cuts impact some programs, but nothing that would affect the district’s educational core.
Valentini during the finance subcommittee meeting said he originally approached the teachers union about adjusting the health insurance contribution to free some funds, but the union countered with accepting a furlough day in exchange for a contribution from the district.
"I believe this is an extraordinary act of cooperation from the staff," Valentini said.
To reach John Sakata:
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On Twitter: @jsakata