Mohawk schools to adopt $19.9M budget Wednesday

  • Vibrant foliage rises behind the Mohawk Trail Regional High School as the field hockey team plays against Smith Academy Wednesday October 26. Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Sunday, February 18, 2018

BUCKLAND — The $19.9 million Mohawk Trail Regional School District budget proposal for the coming school year represents a level-service plan, although it adds the full-time equivalent of about 10 more instructors.

The Mohawk Trail Regional School District Committee will vote to adopt its budget on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at a special meeting at the Mohawk Trail Regional School, beginning at 7 p.m.

Once the School Committee adopts a budget, the towns are asked to approve it at annual town meeting. If a majority of towns approve it, the budget becomes official.

District enrollment is expected to increase by about 20 students overall. The preschool program begun two years ago is helping to increase enrollment in the district elementary schools. This budget plan includes adding a second first-grade classroom at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield and a second sixth-grade classroom at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School. Staffing additions are for about five more teachers, four more teaching aids and one more special education teacher.

The budget plan is $484,557 more than this year’s school budget — but Mohawk’s eight member towns will collectively pay about $112,572 of that budget increase, because the district is using $240,00 from its Excess and Deficiency funds (the equivalent of towns’ “free cash” accounts) and another $350,000 from Chapter 71 transportation revolving funds to reduce town assessments.

Closing the Heath Elementary School in June resulted in first-year net savings of $369,443 for the Mohawk Trail Regional School District.

Each town’s assessment is based on a five-year rolling enrollment average plus the state-mandated “minimum contribution” for education, which is based in part on each town’s perceived relative wealth. The towns to see the largest net assessment hikes are: Buckland $101,917 (a 4.5 percent increase), Colrain $72,778 (1.8 percent increase), Ashfield $42,174 (1.7 percent increase) and Plainfield $34,820 (4.7 percent increase.)

Charlemont’s Mohawk assessment will drop by about $89,082 below this year’s assessment, while Shelburne’s will be a decrease of $33,878. Heath will pay $514 more than it paid this year, and Hawley will see a $7,613 increase over this year’s assessment.

Here are the combined capital and operating budget assessments requested of each town: Ashfield $2,338,200; Buckland $2,375,848; Colrain $2,051,321; Hawley $181,414; Heath $842,526; Plainfield $773,315; and Shelburne $2,294,325.