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Greenfield Public Schools

Hollins calls for 4.7% budget hike for Greenfield schools

GREENFIELD — Retiring superintendent Susan Hollins’ final budget proposal calls for a 4.7 percent increase in spending next year, which adds an equivalent of eight full-time employees to serve an increasing student population.

The $17.3 million budget requests an additional $777,358 to the school department. Nearly 25 percent of that amount comes after recent contract increases with busing companies ($150,000) and paraprofessionals ($37,000).

It also adds an equivalent of 2.4 full-time teachers in elementary schools and 2.6 full-time teachers for the middle school to account for a student body that continues to grow.

While high school grades are averaging under 100 students and grades 5 through 8 have about 115 students each, the school department’s lower grades have an average size of 156. This enrollment bulge, which Hollins calls the “Green Wave,” will hit fifth grade next year, she told the Greenfield School Committee last week.

Hollins wants two part-time associate principals to be increased to full time, and that comes with $36,600 in total salary increases between them.

The budget also calls for an equivalent of 1.4 new full-time teachers at the high school. There also needs to be a full-time building monitor there, she said. Ongoing construction of the new high school will essentially divide the school next year into two separate buildings connected by a temporary walkway, and more supervision is needed.

Hollins also added $75,000 to the budget for additional work toward curriculum coordination, which administrators and some residents have identified as an area they wanted her successor to focus on. The school board discussed this last week and the proposed increase may be lowered to $50,000.

The Greenfield School Committee will need to approve the budget in full and then pass it on Mayor William Martin, who will already be reviewing it as the school board’s chairman. He submits his proposal of all Greenfield’s departments to the Town Council later this spring.

Greenfield is in line to get nearly $12 million in state Chapter 70 local education aid this year, which is only a slight increase from last year. Town officials are not obligated to use all of that money on the Greenfield School Department, and will supplement state aid with local funding from property taxes.

In addition to the $17 million the school department would spend from its general fund, it would also use about $2.4 million in revolving funds and just over $2.7 million in grants.

The school department is required to publicly post a budget summary. To view it, go to www.gpsk12.org and click the “Proposed Budget 2014-2015” link on the right side of the website.

The Greenfield School Committee will hold a budget hearing during its April 9 meeting in Greenfield Community Television’s office on 393 Main St. The hearing starts at 7 p.m.

You can reach Chris Shores at: shores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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