Adams-Cheshire School Committee's spending plan keeps increase under 2%

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CHESHIRE — The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District wants to keep the budget increase below 2 percent for the new fiscal year starting July 1.

The School Committee has adopted a $20 million spending plan, up from the current $19.7 million budget, or a 1.77 percent increase, according to district officials.

"We didn't want to come in with a huge request," said district Superintendent John Vosburgh in an Eagle interview.

Added Business Manager Erika Snyder: "We have to be conscious of what towns can afford."

If both communities approve their share of the budget at separate annual town meetings later this spring, the taxpayers would, percentage-wise, pay a bit more for public education compared with the actual spending hike. District officials say this is due to state aid and other revenue not keeping up with costs and relying less on surplus money to offset expenditures.

Adams, the largest of the two municipalities in terms of student enrollment, is facing a $5.1 million assessment for funding its share of the budget — a nearly $174,000 hike, or 3.5 percent increase. Cheshire's $2.6 million assessment reflects a 2 percent boost, slightly more than $52,000.

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While Chapter 70 money and regional transportation aid for Adams-Cheshire are up almost a combined $88,000 under Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed state budget for fiscal 2020, the district has $140,000 more in contractual obligations to cover in the new school year. In addition, the district is using $100,000 less in school choice funds to pay for several teaching positions, letting the budget directly bear the cost. District officials say choice funds can't keep being used to sustain those jobs.

Educationally, the district wants to create two new positions without adding to the bottom line.

Money for a sign language interpreter that is no longer needed would pay for a reading specialist to work with students at the Hoosac Valley elementary and middle/high schools. In addition, available funds from a high school teaching position would shift to a learning lab teacher who would help struggling students keep up with their courses.

"We urged our principals to figure out how best to allocate funds in each school to better serve the students," Vosburgh said.

As for staff additions to the current school year, district officials say they can afford to keep them for 2019-2020.

The teaching jobs being kept are English as a second language; math intervention; a science, technology, engineering and math position; and a school psychologist.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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