The committee OK'd a level-funded budget of $17,769,075 on a vote of 5-2 with members Tara Jacobs and Ian Bergeron voting against because of concerns that the budget did not address what they felt were deficiencies in the arts and special education.
This week, the news isn't quite so awful with the state committed to level-funding aid through at least the first two months of fiscal 2021. But the district isn't out of the woods yet, Superintendent Barbara Malkas told the committee on Tuesday.
Superintendent Jason Mccandless told the School Committee on Wednesday that he is hoping the contentious $64.4 million school budget clears the City Council's final vote but a 1/12th budget is being prepared.
Last week, the City Council had preliminarily approved the entire fiscal 2021 budget except for the $64.4 million school plan that they tossed back to the School Committee for another look. Councilors had expressed concern that the school budget was too tight.
Educators and supporters in the county's two cities rallied on Monday for more educational funding even as school officials prepare for budget scenarios that could cost dozens of teaching positions and school closures.
The City Council on Thursday tabled the Pittsfield Public Schools fiscal 2021 budget of $64,493,70 at the conclusion of a four-hour-plus hearing after some technical difficulties brought the meeting to a grinding halt.
School officials are bracing for a worst-case budget scenario that could mean the closure of one of the three elementary schools. At minimum, the district is anticipating reductions in positions. There's also the possibility of the reconfiguration of Brayton and Greylock schools.
A preliminary budget with a 1.5 percent increase to maintain level services had already been presented. That's now off the table as schools are shuttered until at least May 4 — if not longer — and Beacon Hill had barely made headway with the fiscal 2021 spending plan before the spreading novel coronavirus put everyone on an emergency footing.
The School Committee set a spending plan for an extra $1.3 million increase in state funding that it hadn't anticipated Monday night.
The plan is eyed to benefit the middle and elementary schools as well as alternative programs.
Superintendent Jason McCandless is scaling back his budget request by about a half million dollars.
McCandless said he had a meeting with Mayor Linda Tyer and Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood since revealing his initial request for a $3.4 million increase to the budget and the three agreed to a lesser number. Particularly, McCandless said the number of new positions, mostly new paraprofessionals, is being scaled back.
After hearing from several teachers at the elementary and high school level who argued against the cut, the six members of the seven-person panel in attendance voted unanimously to restore about $6,000 to the $22.4 million gross operating budget for the three-school, PreK-12 district.
Superintendent Jason McCandless is asking for a $3.4 million increase to the school's budget.
The large 5.7 percent increase comes as Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed a budget that gives the city $3.7 million more in Chapter 70 state aid for schools. The request comes with a number of new initiatives and positions which McCandless said will bolster specific areas the district has identified as problematic areas.