Peer group,French, back on Mohawk chopping block
BUCKLAND — Two weeks after restoring money for two popular classes in the district’s budget proposal, the Mohawk Trail Regional School Committee is reconsidering.
The School Committee meets again Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Mohawk to consider cutting that money out of next year’s budget plan after all.
School board Chairman Robert Aeschback hopes the committee will rescind the budget increase, holding the line at a 2.5 percent overall assessment increase for member towns.
“I have caught nothing but heat from selectmen and finance committee members that, a week after the (budget) public hearing, we added $80,000 to the budget,” he said.
Aeschback said there were legal questions about adding such a sum to the budget after the public hearing, and that this week’s School Committee packet includes a legal opinion on the issue.
He said the $80,000 addition threw Ashfield’s assessment alone from a $93,000 increase to a hike of $107,000, or nearly 6 percent. Even before this budget increase, Ashfield officials at the public hearing said the $93,000 increase might require a tax levy limit override, because the town could only raise $77,000 more under its current levy limit.
The $18.2 million budget that the school board had planned to approve on Feb. 27 kept the overall assessment increase to 2.5 percent, but the $80,000 addition bumped the assessment average up to almost 4 percent.
“I think, on Feb. 27, the School Committee got into micromanaging the school day,” said Aeschback.
Just before adopting the budget presented at the public hearing, the Mohawk committee voted 8 to 2 to restore $80,000 to continue offering French classes at the current level and to keep the Peer Leadership program. Students and school parents have been speaking in favor of keeping these programs, which are taught by teacher Roxanne Trombly.
French was to have been phased out over two years, and replaced with Mandarin Chinese. As for Peer Leadership, the Mohawk superintendent and principal have agreed to work with a student advisory committee to implement the key features of that program in another form, within the school budget.
Last week’s weighted vote represented about a 65 percent majority vote, because the value of member towns’ votes are weighted based on whether they are a K-12 or a Grade 7-12 district member. However, three board members were missing for that vote, and there are two vacancies.
Aeschback of Plainfield and Ashfield School Committee member Emily Robertson were the board members who voted against restoring the classes.
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277