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Gill-Montague school board proposes budget to finance committee

  • Members of the graduating class from the Turners Falls High School returned to their roots for a ‘Clap Out’ as they were saluted by the students at the Sheffield School where many of them attended. The students also visited Great Falls Middle School and Hillcrest School as well as Gill Elementary and Erving Elementary. May 31, 2017. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — Chromebooks for middle schoolers, an increase in special education transportation and a decrease in professional development are proposed in next year’s budget for the Gill-Montague Regional School District.

The school committee presented its proposed budget to the finance committee and Selectboard Wednesday evening after approving the preliminary budget a couple of weeks prior.

The budget would account for a six percent increase in student services and a four percent decrease in operations, which largely deals with custodial services. No custodial positions will be cut.

In addition to Chromebooks for middle schoolers, the budget also allows for elementary teachers to receive new laptops. According to Superintendent Michael Sullivan, the laptops were supposed to be in the budget last year but didn’t make the cut.

“We really don’t want to defer that again,” Sullivan said.

Overall, the proposed budget allows for a 4 percent increase in tuition, which includes a $50,000 increase in School Choice tuition and a $150,000 decrease in charter tuition. School Choice schools allow students to attend a school other than their assigned school for different programs, convenience of transportation and other reasons.

According to Sullivan, choice tuition averages $5,000 per student.

One of the main concerns the finance committee addressed was the amount of students who “choice out,” meaning that the school district loses students to other institutions.

Major budget reductions proposed for next year include a decrease in professional development ($25,000), a reduction in textbooks, instructional supplies and equipment ($54,000), and a reduction in facilities, operations and utilities ($71,000).

The budget also accounts for a reduction in four faculty positions: one elementary position and three secondary positions. It is not clear which positions would be eliminated, but the eliminations account for $230,000 of the budget.

Sullivan also discussed some expenditures the district wishes to make, but aren’t currently in the budget. Among these are additional elementary reading and math support programs, Chromebook computers for high school students, a school resource officer and an after-school program at Hillcrest Elementary.

Members of the finance committee advocated for an after-school program at Hillcrest, saying some parents “choice out” their child to another school that has an after-school program. Members agreed that an after-school program at Hillcrest would reduce stress for single parents or families where both parents work and aren’t able to pick up children as soon as school is dismissed.

“There is still lots of talking to be done,” said Sullivan of the budget proposal.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:

cwisniewski@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280