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Tech School Committee OKs budget; 2.5 percent average assessment bump

TURNERS FALLS — Franklin County Technical School member towns will see an average 2.5 percent increase in assessments for the coming school year, half a percentage point above the 10-year average, while one shop will lose an instructor.

The School Committee approved the $9,611,958 budget at Wednesday’s meeting.

Several spoke against the loss of one of two instructors from the business technology program. Instructor Tammy Hyson repeated the argument made at the last meeting by herself and fellow instructor Jocelyn Croft, whose job is now in jeopardy, that the often low number of freshmen choosing the business program — two this year — is remedied by late transfers.

“It’s about final choices,” Hyson said, pointing to a senior class that began with three students and swelled to eight.

School Committee member Jeffrey Hampton asked the committee to consider changing the budget to restore the position for at least a year to give the program time to improve.

Business Manager Russ Kaubris said the School Committee has not had the right to make most personnel decisions since the Education Reform Act of 1993, but could increase the salary line item whether or not administrators then chose to spend it.

Under Massachusetts law, school committees appoint only the superintendent, business administrator, special education director and a handful of other central office and non-teaching staff.

Member Gerald Levine said the decision was made based on the shop numbers and not fiscal concerns, and the administration had promised his curriculum subcommittee that the position would be restored if numbers improve.

The budget passed as presented by a vote of 21-0, with one abstention.

The full budget represents a 1.26 percent increase over the budget approved last year, but the approved figure was later swelled by higher than anticipated state aid and the newly accepted budget is a 0.67 percent, or $63,679, increase over the final figure.

Another change reflected in the budget is the elimination of the curriculum director position, to be split in two at an added cost of $60,000, a move administrators said earlier was the result of the increasing workload from outside mandates.

Assessment percent change and total:

∎  Bernardston: 38.28 percent increase, $156,336

∎  Buckland: 3.48 percent decrease, $162,556

∎  Colrain: 10.93 percent increase, $237,220

∎  Conway: 18.48 percent increase, $135,275

∎  Deerfield: .16 percent decrease, $305,302

∎  Erving: 2.77 percent increase, $305,302

∎  Gill: 9.71 percent decrease, $129,926

∎  Greenfield: 15.15 percent decrease, $1,001,507

∎  Heath: 73.83 percent decrease, $19,943

∎  Leyden: 93.57 percent increase, $122,121

∎  Montague: .84 percent decrease, $731,659

∎  New Salem: 13.69 percent increase, $90,858

∎  Northfield: 25.29 percent increase, $315,843

∎  Orange: 33.03 percent increase, $560,649

∎  Shelburne: 3.62 percent decrease, $172,483

∎  Sunderland: 9.77 percent decrease, $198,446

∎  Warwick: 9.19 percent increase, $105,391

∎  Wendell: 71.76 percent increase, $104,700

∎  Whately: 7.72 percent decrease, $124,763

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