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PVRS revenue up; budget still unresolved

NORTHFIELD — Pioneer Valley Regional School District towns will get a slight reduction in their requested shares of the school budget due to a bump in district revenue.

The state budget signed by the governor includes an increase of $87,683 to the $418,142 expected in transportation reimbursement to the district. An additional $12,317 in School Choice money is also in line for the district.

These lower the towns’ shares of the district budget by $100,000.

The School Committee’s Budget Subcommittee decided Monday not to lower the proposed $14.13 million budget before presenting new assessments to the towns.

That budget already represented cuts of $225,000 in staffing, by not replacing a handful of teachers leaving the district. Budget Subcommittee members said that the budget presented to town meetings was already cut as far as they could without affecting services provided by the schools.

“It wasn’t a figure we just grabbed out of the air,” said School Committee Chairwoman Patricia Shearer. “I don’t know that I could vote for a figure less than we did in April.”

The bulk of the savings, $50,890, would go to Northfield, which pays 50.9 percent of the district budget. Bernardston would see its assessment trimmed by $32,420, Warwick by $9,499 and Leyden by $7,189.

The new assessments for Bernardston and Northfield would be subject to special town meeting approval in both towns.

Both Leyden and Warwick approved their full requested assessments at their annual town meetings and Bernardston approved a lower amount.

The budget must be passed by three of the four towns. If Bernardston’s approved amount were used to calculate a new budget, it would leave the district short about $650,000 after the $100,000 of additional revenue is applied.

Northfield’s approval of its full $4.17 million share was contingent on a Proposition 2 1/ 2 override vote after town meeting.

The passage of the override would have given the school its full requested budget. However, the July 8 vote ended in a tie. A recount is likely as it only requires a petition signed by 10 registered Northfield voters by July 18.

District Superintendent Dayle Doiron said she doesn’t think a recount will result in the override’s passage. If the tie vote stands, the override fails, though Northfield officials are considering the possibility of holding a second override vote after slightly less than 25 percent of the town’s voters weighed in on the question.

If a future override failed and Bernardston’s numbers were used to calculate a new budget, Northfield would have to come up with about $76,000 above what’s been budgeted.

If a school budget can’t be reached before the start of the school year, the district would default to an interim budget equal to last year’s.

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