The Adams-Cheshire School Committee approved cutting nearly a half-million from next year's budget.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee approved cuts of $469,000 from the school district's fiscal 2015 budget Monday night.
The total budget the committee voted to approve is $18,618,074. This asks Adams to increase its assessment 2.8 percent, to $5,259,722, and Cheshire to increase 2.4 percent, to $2,493,993. This left the district with a $469,000 gap to fill.
"The towns would like to see a 3 percent increase in the budget, but we all as a community and a school district have a difficult decision to balance the needs of our students and the tax payers," Superintendent Kristen Gordon said.
The approved budget recommends various cuts that close the $469,000 gap, including a suggested reduction of $300,000 in contract negotiations.
"I know the committee had said very strongly, and as a superintendent I would agree, that we don't want to see any staff cuts at all, but to get to that $469,000 there is literally nothing else in the budget to cut," Gordon said.
In addition to these cuts, $25,000 was taken from maintenance and capital projects, lowering that budget from $100,000 to $75,000.
Gordon explained that many important repairs and renovations will have to be put aside with this reduction. This could include repairs to C.T. Plunkett and Cheshire elementary schools.
"We felt that with the $75,000 we could at least get the urgent things done and the things that absolutely have to be done," Gordon said.
The recommended cuts also include the elimination of four paraprofessional positions, which saves the school district $58,000. Also, $45,000 will be saved because a teacher is retiring and another $16,000 of miscellaneous cuts were made to the budget.
Along with staff and capital spending cuts, the gap will be closed with $25,000 from school choice.
Superintendent Kristen Gordon advocated for a slightly higher budget but the School Committee did not think Adams would support it.
Gordon explained that many needed aspects of education will go missing because of this budget. She said that this budget will not lessen class sizes, will not add a curriculum coordinator, will not support the needed amount of adjustment counseling and special education, and will not fill the required foreign language education needs.
Gordon offered another budget that asks Adams to increase 3.9 percent and Cheshire to increase 3.2 percent. Adams would support the district with $5,308,351 and Cheshire would supply $2,511,364. The total budget would be raised to $18,684,074.
But the committee was certain the town of Adams would not accept this budget.
Gordon stressed the importance at looking at new models that would allow the committee and the district to not have to compromise education for deficits every year.
"When we continue to have the budget that just can't keep up with the needs of our children, we have to look at models so that is what we are going to do next," she said.
Committee member Darlene Rodowicz felt that Adams should support education more. She compared Adams educational funding to North Adams.
"They [North Adams] receive $1,100 per resident toward education, and the town of Adams, if the numbers are right, receive $507 per resident toward education," she said. "This is about our community and our adults supporting our children and believing education is the pathway out of poverty and to opportunity, and we aren't letting our money do the talking here."