Town meeting on Tuesday night approved the elementary school's requested fiscal 2017 budget- after cutting it by a symbolic $27.
There had been concerns that the $6 million budget would be "held hostage" by constituents angry at the reductions made to the school's Side-By-Side special education preschool program. But opponents expressed their displeasure with an amendment that cut the school's funding by $1 for every year that Side-By-Side has existed.
All you need to know going into Tuesday's annual town meeting: Come early, plan to stay late and read up.
There will be plenty to talk about when the town's voters gather at Williamstown Elementary School, and if last Tuesday's Town Election is any indication, there will be plenty of people there to do the talking.
The Elementary School Committee is seeking a 6.35 percent increase in the town's contribution to an fiscal 2017 budget that only increases 3.33 percent from FY16.
The difference: a choice the district has made about how to use School Choice revenue.
First-year Superintendent Doug Dias made it clear from Day 1 of the budget process that he wants to end the district's unsustainable practice of relying on School Choice revenue for operating expenses.
The Elementary School Committee on Wednesday approved a plan to add a third half-day session to the school's Side-By-Side special education preschool program.
In a unanimous vote, the committee agreed to ask the town for an additional $58,424 on the budget it approved earlier this spring. The school is seeking about $6.14 million from the town for fiscal 2017, a 6.35 percent increase over this year.
Williamstown Elementary School is adding a third half-day section to its Side-By-Side preschool program, a move school officials hope will ease some of the concerns that have riled the community in recent weeks.
Superintendent Douglas Dias said on Friday that the decision to add the third section was driven by a desire to accommodate all families who had applied for the program.
It was clear from the get-go that the decision to cut a full-day option from the elementary school's special education preschool program was the chief topic of conversation.
The town on Tuesday, May 10, will elect two people to serve on the five-member School Committee. There is one incumbent in the race, current committee Chairman Dan Caplinger.
Seeing these two meetings unfold at the nearly the same time, (1 hour or so at the Planning Board, 45 minutes at School Committee meeting, and then back to Planning Board for another hour) I was struck by their similarities and their startling differences.
Four members of the Williamstown School Committee on Thursday again explained their reasons for supporting a fiscal 2017 budget that includes a reduction to the school's popular preschool program.
At a special meeting originally rescheduled from April 13, the committee members explained why they did not oppose the school administration's decision to eliminate the full-day option for Side-By-Side.
Families were informed of the decision on Wednesday at the regularly scheduled 1:30 dismissal. The school will be off limits to all school and non-school activities through Monday to allow the building to be cleaned allow for “any residual spores to die” according to a school-wide email.
Last week, the voters of Williamstown overwhelmingly supported an initiative that would allow the town to fund a renovated and expanded Mount Greylock Regional School.
It is a fair guess that many of the voters did not understand their choice as well as a group of Williamstown Elementary sixth-graders.
The School Committee has sent its superintendent and his team back to the budget with a complex mandate to restore at least some of the cuts made to reduce next year's spending plan.
The decision came Wednesday night after a marathon 4 1/2 hours of public comments and committee deliberation. Rather than sending a budget to the town's Finance Committee next Wednesday, the school officials plan to reconvene to hopefully vote on a modified budget.
Williamstown Elementary School Superintendent Douglas Dias faced a crowd of about 70 people on Thursday evening to explain the constraints that are shaping the district's fiscal 2017 budget.
The elementary school is facing cuts that include two teachers, four paraprofessionals, several enrichment programs and the reduction of its pre-kindergarten Side by Side program from the current full-day program to two half-day sessions.
Williamstown Elementary School is looking to cut three teachers to offset rising health insurance costs.
Citing a 14 percent increase in health insurance cost and a need to make the district's budget more sustainable, School Superintendent Douglas Dias told the School Committee on Wednesday his preliminary fiscal 2017 budget includes a reduction of three teachers from current staffing levels.
This month, fourth-graders in Lanesborough and Williamstown have traded in four square for Punnett squares.
Genetics is just one of the lessons being taught by the nationally-recognized science program BioEyes, which returned this winter to Williamstown Elementary School and made its first stop at Lanesborough Elementary.