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Greenfield Public Schools

Greenfield school board eyes zero-based budgeting

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee may use the timing of a superintendent search as an opportunity to examine how effectively the department spends its money.

Member John Lunt, who chairs the finance subcommittee of the School Committee, suggested earlier this month that the department consider zero-based budgeting — where each line item is reviewed separately without looking at past funding levels.

“What I would like to see is some dialogue about why are we doing things the way we’re doing,” said Lunt at a Nov. 19 subcommittee meeting. “That isn’t meant to imply we’re doing things poorly ... (but) it’s a chance every year to say, ‘Why are we doing this? Is this the smartest, best way for us to do this?’”

Mayor William Martin, chairman of the School Committee, said that now is “an excellent opportunity” for the school department to fully examine its spending. The School Committee has begun to look for the successor of Superintendent Susan Hollins, who has led the district since 2008.

He said all other Greenfield departments have gone through similar evaluation processes — with some completing it in a couple of months and others taking a few years.

The department has come a long way since the 2008 financial crisis and School Choice exodus, said Lunt. Back then, the School Committee had to worry about how it would open its school doors and provide basic services to students.

“There is stability in the district. ... It’s a good time for us to sit back and be grateful for all the work that’s gotten us here,” said Lunt.

“But once you get out of that mode ... it’s time for us to really take a look at the whole system and go, ‘OK. We’re out of that horrible hole that got dug for us but all of those systems that we put together rapidly probably deserve a review.’”

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

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