Committee mulls $21.7M budget for Greenfield schools

  • The Greenfield School Committee during a Jan. 27 meeting at the John Zon Community Center. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • WEDEGARTNER

  • PROIETTI

Staff Writer
Published: 2/14/2020 9:56:11 PM
Modified: 2/14/2020 9:55:58 PM

GREENFIELD — With the School Department’s Feb. 21 deadline to post its public budget hearing approaching quickly, members of the School Committee Budget Subcommittee have a proposed all-funds budget of about $21.7 million.

The School Department’s Finance Director Steve Nembirkow said during a recent meeting that two budgets are being looked at by the budget subcommittee — the “all-funds” or all-requests budget and the level-service budget.

The all-funds budget would amount to a $2.4 million increase over the current fiscal year’s budget of $19.3 million, according to Nembirkow. That’s a 12 percent increase.

The all-funds budget includes a 3 percent expense increase, 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (per contractual agreements) and step raises. Green River School staffing is included in the all-funds budget.

The other budget is a level-service budget, which would be an 8 percent increase, or a $1.5 million increase, over the current fiscal year’s budget. That budget does not include the 3 percent expense increase or additional requests, such as new positions, and may rise based on future contract negotiations.

On Friday, School Committee Chair Amy Proietti said the School Department is putting forward a budget to “start with what the true cost is to educate kids in Greenfield.”

“If we don’t start with the amount we need, how are we get to get to a place where we’re thriving?” Proietti said. “I see this as a starting point and I hope that our city and elected officials understand the cost of educating our students.”

Proietti said the School Department is working with Mayor Roxann Wedegartner to “problem-solve around this and work as a team.”

“I want to talk about how we can get there with creative thinking and innovation,” Proietti said.

Wedegartner said the city and the School Department are working with their all-funds budgets, but “some cuts that no one wants to make, including me, need to be made.”

“We’re working with an all-funds budget on the city side as well,” Wedegartner said on Friday. “We’re going to have to make budget cuts, but realistic cuts, and hopefully keep everything in line to overall assist the schools in not having to cut so much.”

Wedegartner said she has been attending the budget subcommittee meetings, except for two.

“I want to work together with the School Department, I’m not interested in thwarting its efforts of having a realistic budget,” she said. “It’s important to understand none of us can have everything they want and I’m asking everyone to be understanding. We’re all in this together. At the end of the day, we’re going to put together a pie and the schools have a big part of that pie.”

She said the city is “making efforts to look for efficiencies and ways to save money as it is still hammering (the budget) out.”

Since the budget subcommittee was reestablished in January, the subcommittee has been meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, except for two cancellations due to snow, according to Proietti.

“We’ve prioritized hearing from principals and department heads about their needs,” Proietti said. “We’ve also had conversations about Unit C and contract stabilization on the city side because funding the contract for the 2020 fiscal year could cause a real pickle for 2021.”

The budget subcommittee is set to meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Central Office Conference Room, 195 Federal St., Suite 100, and Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the same location.

According to the mayor’s office, the budgeting timeline for the School Department is as follows:

■Following posting the public hearing on Feb. 21, the School Committee will have a hearing and vote at the same meeting.

■The School Committee will need to vote on the final budget during the week of Feb. 29 to March 6.

■The budget must be submitted to Wedegartner by March 10 and write-ups for the budget book are due the same day.

■April 1 is the deadline for the mayor to present the operating budget to the City Council. The Ways and Means Subcommittee will meet to discuss the budget in April.

■The City Council must take action within 60 days and adopt the budget (with or without amendments) by May 31.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at mbourdeau@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263.




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