Adams-Cheshire school budget would cut 12.5 positions, reduce combined assessment

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CHESHIRE — To keep spending nearly flat in the coming year, Adams-Cheshire Regional School District could face sizable cuts, including 12.5 full-time positions districtwide.

Among the positions to be cut are six teachers, as well as three administrative positions that were created in the current budget.

The proposed $18.99 million budget for fiscal 2017, presented Monday before the School Committee, represents a decrease of $110,767 from the previous year. After 10 straight years of increases to the towns' combined assessment, officials felt it was time to reverse that trend.

"We reached a point where the towns could no longer sustain those increases, so we had to reduce the budget," Business Manager David Hinkell said during his presentation.

The full committee is expected to vote on the budget following a 5:30 p.m. public hearing on Thursday at Hoosac Valley Middle and High School.

The deep cuts represent an $800,000 decline from the first working draft of the budget administrators crafted in the fall, after which the district met with officials from both towns.

In addition to the reduction of six teachers, the district would also cut the assistant business administrator, a building secretary and 1.5 paraprofessional positions. The technology coordinator, curriculum director and elementary coordinator positions created this year would be eliminated.

Athletics also would be impacted, with the reduction of a strength and conditioning coach and assistant coach, junior varsity football coach, and cross-country ski coach. The savings from athletic cuts total $17,525.

Chapter 70 state aid is projected to only increase by 0.3 percent from last year, a boost of $35,290. Over the last nine years, officials point out, unrestricted aid has decreased an average of 0.3 percent annually.

Due to the complex formula by which the town's share funding, Cheshire would actually see its assessment rise $55,299 over the current to $2.43 million, an increase projected to leave Cheshire within the levy limit. Last year, the town approved a proposition 2 ½ override as its assessment from the school district jumped 7.3 percent.

The assessment to the town of Adams will decrease by $80,000 to about $4.8 million.

The budget also removes a planned $25,000 for repairs to Cheshire Elementary that are desperately needed, including repairs to the boiler room roof, walls and ceiling, Hinkell said.

The district's revenues are largely unchanged from the year prior, except for transportation reimbursement from the state that has plummeted $142,883 to $230,273. The decline is due to the district over-reporting the number of students eligible for transportation last year, resulting in an inflated reimbursement number.

As in years past, district officials pointed out that Adams-Cheshire remains about 28 percent below the state average in per pupil spending.

They also noted that, this year, the district will expect to pay $925,000 in tuition to Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School and only receive an $84,000 reimbursement from the state.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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