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Mohawk board defeats budget cut push

BUCKLAND — For the moment at least, French is back.

The School Committee has kept an $80,000 increase for French and Peer Leadership classes in the Mohawk Trail Regional School District’s budget proposal.

Many people have been lobbying to keep the $80,000, while some town officials have wanted the cut.

The reduction was defeated Wednesday by a weighted Mohawk committee vote, with roughly 34 percent in favor of the cut and 48 percent opposed. School Committee members from K-12 member towns have two votes, Grades 7-12 towns have one vote.

“Only two towns showed up to speak against it,” remarked School Committee Chairman Robert Aeschback of Plainfield.

He said Selectman Joseph Judd of Shelburne and Plainfield Finance Committee Chairman Robert Persing came to the meeting, to talk about their town’s financial constraints. Also, the Ashfield Finance Committee had sent a letter voicing opposition to the budget increase.

On Feb. 27, when the School Committee was to adopt its budget proposal, a last-minute amendment added $80,000 to the budget, to retain the French and Peer Leadership classes that had been among roughly $1 million in budget requests that were pared down.

Although students and parents have come to speak up for these two programs, the School Committee doesn’t technically have the authority to reinstate these programs through this budget addition. That authority lies with school administrators.

The overall assessment increase for Mohawk towns is now 3.4 percent; and the budget must be approved by two-thirds of its member towns at annual town meetings. Otherwise, a new or lower budget request would have to be voted on at special town meetings this summer. If the district does not have an adopted budget by July 1, then the state Commissioner of Education would establish an interim monthly budget, of at least one-twelfth of last year’s budget or more.

Plans for the high school had been to phase out French over two years and implement Mandarin Chinese, on the grounds that offering one European language (Spanish) and one Asian language would better prepare students interested in international fields and commerce.

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