NORTH ADAMS — Officials aim to spend $18.7 million to operate city schools next year, an increase of about 5 percent, according to a draft presented this week to the School Committee’s finance and facilities subcommittee.
But much of that spending increase would be offset by an increase in aid from the state.
Increased budget, increased payIt’s the first proposed budget increase in several years, said Nancy Rauscher, director of school finance and operations.
Salaries for some administrators, like principals and central office staff, are increasing as they were up for renewing their contracts, said Superintendent Barbara Malkas.
“We did a review of salaries in Berkshire County and looked to have equity between our principals based on educational attainment and certainly experience,” she said. Even with the proposed increases, “we’re still on the lower end of administrative salaries.”
There are also pay increases budgeted for all contracts with school employees, including some unknowns for paraprofessionals, who have started negotiations, and cafeteria staff who are expected to be in negotiations this year, Malkas said.
Other costsThere are a few proposed added positions, including a special education teacher at Drury High School, Malkas said. Busing costs are also expected to increase in the coming year, potentially by 10 percent, Rauscher said.
Where the extra money comes from“When I first saw these numbers, I had a little bit of a heart attack because I honed in on a 5 percent increase,” Mayor Jennifer Macksey said. “What’s that going to do to our overall budget?”
Then, she said she learned from Rauscher that Chapter 70 funding, the major way the state funds schools, is expected to increase by 7.7 percent, or about $1 million. “I think that we can sell the increase by the offset of Chapter 70,” Macksey said. “Again, were still in draft mode. I have to crunch all these numbers with the overall budget.”
What’s nextThe subcommittee plans to meet again on April 14, and will eventually make a recommendation on the draft to the School Committee, according to Macksey.