Deerfield Elementary shaves spending request

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Deerfield Elementary School Committee has reduced its budget request by $92,951 to ease fiscal pressures on the town.

The request is now $96,559 more than this year’s budget. Rather than a 4.55 percent increase over the current year, the budget would only increase by 2.23 percent with the new changes. The budget request is now $4,242,742.

The reduction would help balance the town’s budget, which is facing roughly a $170,000 to $200,000 deficit.

School officials indicated that if the town decides to seek a Proposition 2 1/ 2 tax cap override, it would want to keep its original budget request.

Superintendent Martha Barrett said the budget changes address fiscal concerns while maintaining the educational quality of the school.

“Our primary motive was to maintain classroom teachers and services we have and look at things in a different way,” Barrett said. “Our goal is to maintain small class sizes. It would still give us Spanish, physical education, art, music and library.”

The school saves money by eliminating a library aide for $4,953 and the two instructional aides for $40,131, a four-tenths position for Spanish for $25,441, $1,850 in educational supplies, and a one-year-only decrease of $18,133 due to a teacher going on a leave of absence.

Rather than hire a full-time teacher for one year, the school would hire an instructional assistant. This position would also serve as a library assistant.

The committee also saved $6,051 through replacement of a gym teacher with a less experienced one and by freezing the vice principal's salary.

The school department reversed its original decision to eliminate Spanish instruction for the younger grades after many parents and teachers spoke out against the proposal. The new budget would maintain its Spanish instruction for kindergarten, first and second grades. The position would decrease from a six-tenths position to a four-tenths position.

The school administration first proposed reducing a three-tenths physical education teacher position for $14,142, but the school committee decided to keep the position. The change would have decreased gym class from twice a week to once a week. The school committee decided against that cut in light of research indicating the importance of exercise for children.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

(Editor's note: Some information in this story has changed from an earlier edition)

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