Pioneer’s substitute teachers budget falls short

  • At mid-year, Pioneer Valley Regional School has only 4.27 percent of its $35,000 substitute budget remaining. Recorder Staff/Shelby Ashline

Recorder Staff
Friday, December 22, 2017

NORTHFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Regional School District is in a tight fiscal spot once again, this time with its substitute teacher budget.

Superintendent Ruth Miller recently presented the School Committee with expenditure reports showing that while the elementary schools’ substitute teacher budgets were well-funded, half-way in the year Pioneer’s substitute budget has only $1,494 unencumbered, or 4.27 percent.

“What’s scary is how much has already been used,” she told the committee last week.

Earlier this year, Miller reported the district needs another $282,514 to balance the books for the current school year, a deficit which primarily resulted from the district receiving $303,601 less in regional busing reimbursement than she anticipated. Though the School Committee has floated ideas of possible cuts, it has taken no formal action.

School Committee members wondered how Pioneer’s fund could be so near depletion by mid-school year. Because there are more staff at Pioneer than at the elementary schools, Miller explained, there are more opportunities for needing substitutes. But the substitute budget was cut for this year in step with teacher cuts. Substitute budgets at Pioneer, Bernardston Elementary and Northfield Elementary were each cut by $5,000.

“It looks to me that relative to the elementary schools, we under-budgeted for Pioneer,” said committee member David Young, noting that Pioneer represents approximately half of the district’s student population. “I don’t think we’re overspending as much as we under-budgeted.”

How it compares

Pioneer’s $35,000 substitute budget represents 41.62 percent of the district’s total amount budgeted for substitutes, $84,100.

Bernardston Elementary School’s $15,000 substitute budget has $7,555 unencumbered, or 50.37 percent; Pearl Rhodes Elementary School’s $6,600 substitute budget has $4,835 unencumbered, or 73.25 percent; Northfield Elementary School’s $20,000 substitute budget has $10,532 unencumbered, or 52.66 percent; and Warwick Community School’s $7,500 substitute budget has $5,907 unencumbered, or 78.77 percent.

Miller seemed unsure how to reconcile the pending shortage.

“Our reluctance in budgeting is, do we really want to put another $35,000 in (the Pioneer substitute budget) and then what are we going to take away from the students to be able to meet that $70,000?” she asked committee members.

However, when asked Wednesday, Miller said “if the trend continues the way it is right now, there’ll be money left in the elementary schools’ substitute budgets” to hopefully offset Pioneer’s spending. In the past, if the substitute budgets go over, Miller said superintendents adjust the rest of the budget accordingly.

“It’s not an exact science,” she said. “It’s just not predictable. You can’t predict when people are going to get sick or when they’re going to have a baby or when they’re going to be injured.”

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257