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Mount Greylock Trims Budget in Response to Lanesborough Meeting

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
01:03PM / Friday, March 21, 2014
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Mount Greylock and Williamstown School Business Manager Lynn Bassett and Superintendent Rose Ellis prepare to give their budget presentations to the Williamstown Finance Committee.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The latest draft of the Mount Greylock Regional School budget includes $101,000 in cuts that resulted from last week's meeting with Lanesborough officials.
 
Mount Greylock Superintendent Rose Ellis and School Committee member David Backus on Thursday met with the Williamstown Finance Committee to discuss the projected budget for the junior-senior high school, which is a two-town regional district comprising Williamstown and Lanesborough.
 
The pair reported that the district's finance subcommittee met on Wednesday and agreed to recommend the $101,000 in cuts to the full School Committee later this month.
 
The cuts include the elimination of late buses, reductions to the athletic department and the use of a private fund to pay for one staff position.
 
The cuts bring Mount Greylock's assessment to Williamstown closer to the 2.5 percent increase the town is projecting across all municipal departments, but it would still increase the assessment for fiscal 2015 by 3.3 percent above this year's assessment.
 
On March 12, the School Committee announced that it would seek assessment increases of 4.03 percent from Lanesborough and 4.69 percent from Williamstown; the towns pay differing assessments based on a five-year rolling average of enrollment figures.
 
Lanesborough officials balked at that number and suggested a 2.5 percent increase would be possible.
 
Mount Greylock's new preliminary budget meets the 2.5 percent target for Lanesborough. But since the towns pay a proportionate share of the budget, Williamstown's assessment hike would be higher — in real dollars, nearly $152,000 more than this year.
 
Ellis said the cuts came from a $10.5 million budget she already characterized as "very lean," with $150,000 in reductions from discretionary line items from a year ago.
 
"Since we went to that [Lanesborough] meeting on Thursday, we've been scurrying around to figure out where we get another $100,000," Ellis said. "And the first place is the late bus run. That has to happen."
 
At one time, Mount Greylock offered students three late bus runs, at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. That meant six different late buses — one for each town at each time.
 
This year, it offered two late buses, and the School Committee last week discussed cutting back to one. The finance subcommittee on Wednesday agreed to cut the last late bus, saving $30,000 from the budget.
 
The subcommittee proposes saving another $52,000 by funding a staff position not from main budget but from the Williams College Community Fund for Mount Greylock, a fund created in 2011 by the Jeffrey family of Ohio, which has significant ties to the college.
 
The rest of the cuts come from athletics — $10,000 from cutting three assistant coaching positions and $9,000 by eliminating the alpine ski team.
 
The Finance Committee agreed to revisit the Mount Greylock budget at its next meeting, which it scheduled for April 3, at which time it hopes to have the rest of the annual town meeting warrant articles to review.
 
The Finance Committee reviews all municipal budgets throughout the winter and makes advisory votes to town meeting, where budgets are voted up or down.
 
Also on Thursday, the committee reviewed Williamstown Elementary School's budget, which is in line with the 2.5 percent increase in town revenues.

Tags: Finance Committee,   fiscal 2015,   MGRHS,   school budget,   

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