With cuts on the horizon, Pioneer schools to seek state help

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School. ANDY CASTILLO

Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 17, 2018

NORTHFIELD — Faced with the possibility of layoffs, the school district might be looking to the state for guidance with local financial troubles.

The Pioneer Valley Regional School District Committee decided unanimously at an emergency meeting Thursday night to seek financial advisory from the state. If the district were to get the help, a financial review board would have veto power over the School Committee’s actions and would not allow the committee to overspend.

The district’s financial problem was clarified in a Department of Revenue audit last week, showing that the district would need to borrow at least $957,379.09 to start the next fiscal year without a deficit, said the School Committee’s attorney Russell Dupere.

Dupere emphasized that in order to meet its budget, the district will likely need to make extensive layoffs and close multiple schools.

“(The overspending) is not the teachers’ salaries,” Dupere said. “This is a structural issue. The size of the school versus the amount of money that you spend to run that school is not matching up.”

The committee also voted for the district’s administrators to develop plans to cut between $400,000 and $1 million, and to have those plans ready to discuss at the next committee meeting on May 24, 7 p.m. at Pioneer Valley Regional School.

Committee members expressed frustration about the reliability of the financial information provided by administrators.

“I don’t feel that I can responsibly make decisions for our district at this point because I have lost faith completely in our ability to decipher the mess that we’re in,” said Susan O’Reilly-McCrae, a committee member from Warwick. “I don’t want to do anything else until someone from the outside comes in and tells me what is going on.”