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Mohawk school board won’t alter assessments

BUCKLAND — The Mohawk Trail Regional School District Committee will not change this year’s budget, despite the wishes of six selectboards for a revision that would reduce their towns’ assessments, in accordance with new state funding formulas.

Instead, the school board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. to explain this complicated situation to selectmen and finance committee members from Mohawk towns. That meeting will take place at Mohawk.

New minimum required contributions for each town and city were released by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in July — after all eight Mohawk towns had approved Mohawk’s budget and their own respective assessments.

But the state’s newly changed calculations for determining “minimum required contributions” means that six of the eight towns would have saved between $1,800 and $30,000 this school year, while Charlemont’s assessment would have gone up by $1,400 and Heath’s would climb by about $75,000.

If a district with an approved budget wanted to change the assessments, the school committee could propose an amended budget with recalculated assessments, “but is not required to do so,” says an education department memo.

If the school committee wanted to amend its budget and revise assessments, it would have to submit the amended budget to member communities for their approval, by at least a two-thirds majority vote. However, no town’s assessment could be raised without its approval. Also, if a member town doesn’t approve an assessment increase, “the district cannot enforce the payment of that higher amount,” the memo says.

For the past month, Mohawk School Committee members have gone to selectmen’s meetings to get a sense of what town officials want them to do.

At a recent school board meeting, Chairman Robert Aeschback said that Heath selectmen would not support a $75,000 school assessment increase for this year, and that going through the time and effort to recertify its budget would be a waste of time and effort.

“People want to recertify the budget when nothing’s going to happen,” he said. “It would cost us a lot of time and money for nothing.”

Aeschback said he called the meeting so that “everyone can hear the same story at the same time.”

“We have no control over what the state did,” he said. “The School Committee is in a no-win situation. The state says we don’t have to do anything. By informing the towns, we’re already doing more than we are required.”

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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