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Mahar wants 2.7% hike to budget

ORANGE — The Mahar Regional School member towns will be asked at annual town meetings this spring to pay $12,055,791 for next academic year.

That’s a 2.7 percent budget increase.

Teachers’ salaries and a new transportation contract take up a large portion of the increase, with smaller items making up the difference. About $432,600 more than this year is proposed to cover the 1.5 percent in negotiated teachers’ raises. There is also $40,507 planned for a new hire: a certified teacher to comply with Chapter 222, an unfunded state mandate to keep students in school and immersed in learning while receiving suspensions. The mandate will take effect July 1.

About $9,000 is earmarked for new Statistics Course text purchases and Google email archiving. Another $25,768 covers increases in the new busing contract.

Although inflation has boosted spending in most areas, there are a few areas where costs have come down. The first is a decrease of $57,398 for power due to the new electricity contract with Direct Energy. School Superintendent Tari Thomas has pointed out a $105,906 reduction in health insurance costs because the new Medex rates have dropped.

Overall projected income for the year is $6,706,727. This is up $104,809 and is a combination of state aid and assorted local income sources. That leaves $5,349,064 to come from the district’s member towns, New Salem, Orange, Petersham and Wendell.

Committee Chairman Peter Cross has pointed out the original budget proposed was cut by $65,000.

A presentation on the budget will be posted on the school’s website and its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Daniel Haynes is the new director of finance and operations. Haynes is Thomas’ first step toward restructuring the central office as a means of regionalizing work. Haynes will be in charge of finance and operations for all school districts served by Thomas. Thomas says she feels very fortunate that the job was posted and Haynes applied. Haynes was one of four finalists out of two dozen applicants. His familiarity with the districts is an asset, since he comes to the new position from the firm Scanlon Associates Certified Public Accountants. Scanlon Associates is the auditing firm for Mahar, Orange Elementary and Petersham Center School. His official start date will be in late April.

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