Greenfield School Committee finally approves $23M budget

  • Greenfield Superintendent Jordana Harper reacts to a comment by Mayor William Martin during a School Committee meeting at the John Zon Community Center in March. On Monday, the committee approved a $23 million all-funds budget. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 10/22/2019 11:09:42 PM

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield School Committee approved a $23 million all-funds budget on Monday, including the city’s $19 million contribution and $400,000 appropriated from multiple revolving accounts to cover a budget gap.

Superintendent Jordana Harper provided an overview of some of the funding sources in the budget during Monday’s meeting.

“We have local funds, which include funds that come from the state, and then we have a number of sources of revolving funds that are part of that budget,” she said. “There are funds like School Choice ... In a given year, we might take in $500,000 or $600,000 in School Choice, but we might spend $1 million in School Choice funds. We use all of the funds we have as part of the all-funds approach to budgeting.”

She said, since it is already a quarter of the way through the 2020 fiscal year, the schools needed approval on the budget “to be able to operate and meet new needs.”

Greenfield Public Schools Business Manager Stephen Nembirkow also spoke to the School Committee about funding the budget.

“The main question for you guys is how can you appropriate an additional $400,000 for this to balance from the revolving account?” Nembirkow said. “This represents a budget that includes everyone, includes services and is able to get where we need to go, albeit not perfectly, but it gets to where we need to go within the constraints set by the City Council and the city. ”

The committee appropriated $400,000 from the following accounts: $150,000 from preschool tuition, $200,000 from circuit breaker and $50,000 from School Choice. All committee members voted in favor of the appropriation except for Mayor William Martin, who was opposed.

Martin expressed concern about the use of revolving funds to fill the $400,000 budget gap.

“It’s always been a conversation over the years that School Choice is really tough to use for salaries in an operating budget,” Martin said. “It’s not a best practice.”

Nembirkow agreed with Martin about relying on revolving accounts because “one day the revolving accounts will not be there and then the fiscal cliff will occur.”

Committee member Susan Hollins said the School Choice account is the most flexible account in terms of what the money can be spent on.

“We have a policy that we keep a year’s balance in that account,” Hollins said. “I think it’s fair and reasonable. We’re spending what we get each year and there’s no cliff. ... We can keep these accounts relatively stable, which is our policy, and we won’t have a cliff if we don’t spend everything from School Choice.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or

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