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Frontier seeks 2.98% budget hike

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Frontier Regional School Committee wants to spend $282,037 more for next year’s school budget.

The budget proposal is $9,747,730, which is a 2.98 percent increase over the current year.

The Frontier Regional School Committee approved the tentative budget Tuesday night. The School Committee will hold a public hearing and final vote on the budget on March 11 at 6 p.m. at Frontier.

To support that spending level, the school committee will ask its four feeder towns — Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately — to pay $407,637 more than this year.

The tentative budget doesn’t include any “free cash” surplus to boost income and potentially offset what the towns contribute through the property tax. Before using free cash, the School Committee wanted the input of town officials.

Conway’s assessment would increase by $45,689, or 4.53 percent. Deerfield’s share would increase by $192,363, or 6.25 percent. Sunderland’s share would increase by $152,362, or 9.36 percent and Whately by $17,223, or 1.99 percent.

The school district expects $14,400 more in Chapter 70 state aid from the current year and $12,300 more in regional transportation aid.

The budget includes a reduction of one English teacher for $69,514 and one special education teacher for $48,582, which were both made through attrition. Other operational decreases include $1,465 due to a less expensive postage machine and $25,000 less for special education transportation. The decrease is based on a two-year analysis of utilization and a competitive bidding process for services.

Salary-related increases include $176,751 for contract adjustments and step raises, $70,925 for four teacher retirements to cover owed sick and personal time, and $6,007 for nonunion staff raises.

Other operational increases are $6,050 for School Committee expenses .

The superintendent’s office expenditures increased by $20,858 due to raises. Educational supplies increased $6,500, professional development stipends increased by $4,350 and athletic costs increased $7,500.

Evaluation services increased by $20,500 for students coming from the sixth grade who have vision and hearing impairments.

School Choice funds are also impacting the budget for next year.

School Choice students make up 21 percent of the student population or 127 out of 619 students. Last year, School Choice brought in $218,424 in revenue. For the current year, the net gain is projected to decrease 35 percent, or $75,577, due to increases in tuitions for outgoing School Choice and charter students.

School administration officials have predicted the trend will continue for next year with revenue decreasing.

The individual breakdown for proposed town assessments is $1,054,521 for Conway, $3,272,097 for Deerfield, $1,780,651 for Sunderland and $882,016 for Whately.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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