Greenfield School Committee OKs revised $19.7M budget

  • The Greenfield School Committee meets at the John Zon Community Center. STAFF PHOTO/MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2021 7:01:29 PM

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee has approved a revised fiscal year 2022 budget of $19,731,080.

Dr. Judy Houle, interim superintendent, explained at a School Committee meeting Tuesday night that the “budget reset” was due to the fact that City Council approved a $19.7 million school budget in May — a difference of $693,931 when compared to the committee’s proposed “needs-based” budget request of $20,425,011.

Greenfield School Department Business Manager Andrew Paquette of The Management Solution Inc. (TMS) — who previously said it was possible the budget would change at least once — said the budget presented Tuesday night was the first revision of at least two.

“We will be doing another reset in the fall once all the dust has settled regarding FY22 grant information,” he said. “Right now, what you have here is a proposed FY22 revised budget that is balanced to the mayor and City Council’s number.”

Paquette said part of the process involved taking the needs assessment, factoring in the federal funding awarded and determining where those funds could most appropriately be used.

The federal stimuli include ESSER II (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funding of $1.8 million, which can be used now through September 2023 on pandemic-related recovery, Houle said. A minimum of $10,000 of which must be spent on addressing mental health.

Additionally, the district has received a $4.1 million ESSER III stimulus, which can be used now through September 2024. At least $818,491 must be spent on addressing learning loss during the pandemic.

The next effort at a budget rebuild, Paquette said, will require scheduling another Budget Subcommittee meeting in late summer or early fall.

Houle said the budget still reflects the needs of students and teachers as the district moves out of the pandemic.

“We’re going to have to reset those routines and rituals that we have for students,” she said. “And how do we develop norms in a new normal in our schools?”

That means making sure schools are “warm and welcoming” places, Houle said, particularly for students with mental health issues or who have felt they’ve been marginalized or not provided with equitable access.

“We’re very proud of this budget,” said Newton School Principal Melodie Goodwin. “The pandemic gave many things to us, and one of the things it gave to us is many new teachers. Our teachers need the support in the classroom, as well as some coaching, and this budget reflects looking at curriculum and interventions, and providing support for teachers.”

Greenfield High School Principal Karin Patenaude said the school has begun the process of reviewing its curriculum; has partnered with Greenfield Community College to create an alternative pathway for struggling students; and will continue the social and emotional work from the behavioral health grant received earlier this year.

Carol Holzberg, director of technology, also noted the budget reflects the learned importance of digital tools for teaching and learning.

“Going forward, the technology department wants to work, and to continue working on, curriculum, but this time with an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, our tech teachers and our classroom teachers, to strength the (Greenfield public schools’) technology curriculum, based on the Massachusetts digital learning framework,” she said.

Following a few clarifying questions from committee members, the School Committee unanimously approved the revised budget.

“Thank you to the leadership team and to the folks at TMS for all of the hard work getting that in front of us in a way we could digest,” said Chair Amy Proietti, “and for all of the hard work to move the numbers around and make it work for the district and give us some breathing room for the next couple of years.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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