School funding issues on Leyden Annual Town Meeting agenda

  • Leyden Town Hall will again be the site for the Annual Town Meeting that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. Recorder File Photo

Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 17, 2018

LEYDEN — Among the decisions that will be put to Leyden residents at Annual Town Meeting 9 a.m. Saturday at Town Hall are several items regarding school funding.

Leyden must decide whether to approve three annual payments of $5,544 to correct the Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s deficit from its school lunch program. This would be Leyden’s 6.16-percent share of the total $270,000 to be paid by the four member towns. As a “supplemental appropriation,” the money could only be used to pay the deficit incurred because of the lunch program, and may not be used for any other purposes. For this reason, supporters of making the appropriation see it as a guarantee that the problem will be solved. In the warrant article: “This appropriation is made … with the strongest advisory expectation that there will be no recurrence of further lunch deficits in the future.”

The Selectboard recommends approval of the payment, but the Finance Committee recommends against it on the grounds that the total $270,000 is not an accurate figure.

“We as the Finance Committee want to see concrete figures to work with and a strategic solution to the continued deficit within our school district,” said Michele Giarusso, Finance Committee chairwoman. “We felt we should wait until the 2018 (fiscal year) was complete and then the four towns could vote on real concrete figures.”

Leyden’s payment, if it is approved at Annual Town Meeting, is contingent upon the three other towns’ approvals of their own payments. Northfield and Warwick both approved their payments at their town meetings last week. Bernardston’s town meeting is June 6.

Voters will also decide whether to use $7,500 from the Stabilization Fund to start before- and after-school programs at Pearl Rhodes Elementary School. This article is supported by Pearl Rhodes teachers, who have said that the lack of such programs is an inconvenience for parents who work in other towns and has contributed to the school’s declining enrollment. Selectman Bill Glabach estimated that Pearl Rhodes loses between five and eight students annually through School Choice because of this. The program is intended to be self-funding after the initial $7,500 startup payment. Because the money will come from Leyden’s stabilization fund, approval will require a two-thirds majority vote.

Also related to the school district is a payment of $1,918.56 for Leyden’s share of the district’s capital projects and a payment of $10,285.30 from the stabilization fund, requiring a two-thirds majority approval, for technology replacement at Pioneer Valley Regional School.

There is an article on a revision to the zoning bylaw that would allow the Planning Board more leeway in its abilities to give special permits for building. Normally, a structure must be at least 50 feet from the right of way and 40 feet from the other sides of the property lines. Currently, the Planning Board may allow by special permit a building to be built as close as 25 feet from the right of way and property lines. Under the revision being voted on, the Planning Board could allow by special permit for a building to be built as close as 10 feet from the right of way and property lines.

Other decisions

To withdraw from the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District.

To accept reports from town officers for the year 2017.

To accept and expend any sum of money that may be available under provisions of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, authorize the Selectboard to enter into a contract with the Massachusetts Highway Department and borrow in anticipation of 100-percent reimbursement of said amount.

To authorize the Selectboard to enter negotiations with Robert Warrant to purchase or lease the Forge property adjacent to Town Hall.

To authorize the Selectboard to lease a black-and-white printer for five years at $151.99 per month, $9,119.40 in total.

Other funding decisions

$4,000 for the Council on Aging.

$6,000 for three bay sinks in the Town Hall kitchen.

$2,000 for the audit fund.

$1,500 for the Land Acquisition fund.

$1,000 for the Assessors Revaluation account.

$62,911 for the Technology Stabilization account.

$2,384 for the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District.

$40,000 from the Highway Capital Stabilization fund for an all-season dump body for the 1998 Freightliner.

$2,200 from the Highway Capital Stabilization fund for accessories and equipment for the new Ford F550 not covered by insurance. (A two-thirds majority vote is required to move money from stabilization funds.)


To authorize town departments, boards and committees to apply for state and federal grants.

To accept the Library Incentive Grant, Municipal Equalization Grant and Non-Resident Circulation Grant, and to transfer those sums to the Robertson Memorial Library budget.

To accept any sum of money that may be granted from the Quintus Allen Trust Fund and to appropriate the money for equipment, activities and supplies at Pearl Rhodes Elementary School.

Revolving funds

The town must vote to authorize the following revolving funds accounts. Each is listed with its spending limit:

Recreation Committee, $2,000; animal control officer, $5,000; fire safety inspections, $700; COA Shopping Service, $5,000; Planning Board, $1,000; Agricultural Commission, $2,000; and East Hill Cemetery Commission, $5,000.

Special Town Meeting

A special town meeting will be held at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday morning to transfer sums of free cash:

$1,757.45 to the Winter Maintenance account.

$40,000 to the Highway Capital Stabilization account.

$26,378.55 to the Stabilization fund.