Budget impact of Mohawk Trail, Hawlemont school closures unclear

  • Mohawk Trail Regional School. Staff file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 5/14/2020 1:41:32 PM
Modified: 5/14/2020 1:41:20 PM

BUCKLAND — Pat Bell, interim superintendent of Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts, said the financial impact of COVID-19 school closures remains unclear.

“While our buildings are closed, we still have significant costs associated with running our district,” Bell said in a statement.

She explained that in terms of energy savings, pre-paid contracts for fuel and electricity mean the district pays for the product whether it has used it or not.

“We won’t realize a lot until July on some of those bills,” she said. Later, on others.

She said staff are still working and being paid, and while buildings are closed to the public, they remain accessible to food service personnel, administration and custodial staff. Buildings recently opened up to teachers to prepare new materials for remote instruction, and to collect their things, she said.

However, Bell said the district has seen savings related to the closure in terms of costs associated with substitute teachers, spring athletics and field trips.

She noted the district is still in the process of negotiating amendments to its transportation contract.

“It’s a tricky situation,” she said. “We’re trying to support them. We need a bus company when the kids come back.”

Any potential savings in utilities, transportation or other contractual services, she explained, will be offset by the loss in revenue collected from tuition of students in pre-school or afterschool programs. Although those students are still receiving virtual instruction by way of remote meetings with their teachers, the district is no longer collecting tuition that funds the teaching staff in those roles.

Bell added that the district recently finished a remote learning plan to cover the rest of the year.

“The plan is in place and we are developing our transition plans,” she said, “contingent on what happens in the State House.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 263. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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