Greenfield School Committee strikes mayor’s financial order on paraprofessionals’ contract

Staff Writer
Published: 12/12/2019 10:28:27 PM
Modified: 12/12/2019 10:28:15 PM

GREENFIELD — The School Committee struck the mayor’s financial order concerning the paraprofessionals’ contract from its agenda Wednesday evening with a vote of three to two with one abstention. The funding will go before the City Council, but not until January.

According to the financial order submitted by Mayor William Martin, the contracts will cost a total of $349,099 for the first year. The order proposed using $169,099 from the city — specifically, from the Special Education Stabilization Account.

The proposed funding breakdown from the schools were from the following accounts: $100,000 from special education tuition, $60,000 from School Choice tuition and $20,000 from preschool tuition.

“The council will only have one allocation to fund,” Martin said. “They have the option to fund it and hope the School Committee in the future will come up with the rest of the money, or not fund it and reject it, in which case the School Committee will have to go back to negotiations.”

School Committee member Susan Eckstrom motioned to strike the order from the committee’s agenda.

“We as the School Committee directed the mayor to request full funding from the City Council,” Eckstrom said. “The mayor going back and doing his calculations and presenting this to us is in direct opposition to what we as the elected officials directed him to do.”

Member Glenn Johnson seconded, adding that the order was “so obviously directly against what we moved on as a committee.”

Martin spoke to his order at the meeting, stating it was the best method to fund the paraprofessionals’ contracts.

“If the School Committee intends on funding the Unit C contract — this is the pathway to do so. The School Committee approved the selection of funds totaling $180,000 from those three accounts — all are legally available to spend on the Unit C contract,” Martin said. “Without the vote of the School Committee the process will indicate that the council can’t fully fund the Unit C contract on its own with $169,099 from the Special Education Stabilization account of the city, so, therefore, there will be no additional financial order to meet the full funding of the Unit C contract.”

Martin also added he felt that the conversation on funding the contracts was being stifled.

“By striking this topic, it’s stifling communication and dialogue. Not allowing the factual information for this account and the contract to come out is a cowardly act by the School Committee,” Martin said.

School Committee Chair Adrienne Nunez agreed with Martin.

School Committee member Susan Hollins, who was against using the funding proposed by Martin, said she wanted to continue the conversation.

“I don’t think we should strike this because we’ve got to work out something with the city and it’s now public information about how much money is needed,” Hollins said. “I don’t think we should stifle conversation, but maybe we could structure it.”

Johnson motioned to call the question, which was approved in a three-to-two vote with one abstention.

The same vote stuck the agenda item – Nunez, Eckstrom and Johnson for striking the motion and Martin and Hollins against it. School Committee Vice Chair Katie Caron abstained from both votes, as she has throughout the discussions and votes on the paraprofessionals’ contract due to an immediate family member who works in the school system.

The City Council will not vote on the paraprofessionals’ contract, also called Unit C, at its Dec. 17 or 18 meetings. A first reading is scheduled at the special City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 17. However, a second reading, public hearing and vote will not occur until the council’s regular meeting in January.

On Thursday, Martin said he hopes the School Committee decides to fund the contract at some point either in December or January.

“Let’s put money into the schools and drive the interests of students rather than keeping it in the bank to derive interest from the bank,” Martin said. “We have to look forward to a sustainable future. Unit A (the teachers’ contract) is being negotiated, and we have not been informed about the cost of that contract or what’s being negotiated.”

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


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