Gill-Montague schools prepare for four staff reductions, one school resource officer addition

  • Recorder Staff/Tom RelihanGill-Montague Regional School District Superintendent Michael Sullivan

Recorder Staff
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — In an updated report for the Gill-Montague Regional School District, Superintendent Michael Sullivan discussed the elimination of four faculty positions, the addition of a school resource officer, and ways to manage the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

In addition to the previously proposed cuts of a middle school life skills teacher and a Sheffield special education teacher, Sullivan proposes to eliminate a middle school math support teacher position and a science/technology teacher who is already retiring.

The math support teacher provides support to students from sixth to eighth grade who need additional instruction outside of regular math classes. However, Sullivan suggested that students could receive additional math support during their study skills block from their regular math teachers if this position is eliminated.

The reduction of the science/technology teacher position depends on whether the teachers’ association approves of a change in the middle school schedule from a seven-period day to a five-period day.

If the change is agreed upon, students would move from having four academic periods, a period of study skills, and two periods of arts classes to four academic periods, half a period of study skills (25 minutes), and one period of arts per day.

According to Sullivan, this period change will allow for a “shift in related arts teacher availability from the middle school to the high school.” Middle school art, gym, health, and technology teachers would be able to teach, “to varying degrees,” high school-level courses.

If this schedule change is approved, Turners Falls High School Principal Annie Leonard will attend the March 13 School Committee meeting to explain the changes.

If the period change isn’t approved, then the fourth recommended staff reduction would be for a middle school reading teacher. Similar to the math position, this teacher supports students who need additional instruction in reading comprehension.

In the report, Sullivan says that the gap between the Montague affordable assessment and Montague’s actual assessment is $65,000. Sullivan recommends closing the gap by first cutting technology infrastructure spending by $25,000.

“This will cause us to defer, for one year, planned spending on some necessary improvements at the secondary level,” Sullivan said.

Additionally, Sullivan recommends reducing planned transportation spending by $15,000. The school plans to reduce the number of bus routes for the next school year.

Sullivan also recommends that the approximate $37,000 the committee planned to have Montague put into a reserve account be used in Fiscal Year 2019 on the school district’s operating budget.

“Together these moves would allow us to come close to eliminating the Montague assessment above the affordable level,” he stated.