NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The current part-time business administrator will become full-time in July at the expiration of a contract with the North Berkshire School Union.
Carrie Burnett, who was hired last year as part of a one-year shared services agreement with the union, will take over all budgeting and finance office for the North Adams Public Schools.
The School Committee on Tuesday voted to retain Burnett and authorized a contract based on the agreement approved last year but updated to reflect Burnett's full-time position that includes a $1,000 stipend from NBSU as salary; a 1.5 percent contractual increase, based on the teachers' negotiated rate. The city had already been picking up the health insurance as part of the agreement.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas said the job was posted in January and three applications were received. One person was not certified and of the two others, Burnett was interviewed by both her and Mayor Thomas Bernard.
"We had a very good conversation on not only the perspectives on a year in service but thinking about how now to expand that role as it becomes full time, particularly in areas related to grants management," Bernard, chairman of the School Committee. "I make the recommendation here with a very high degree of confidence."
The School Department had sought out the shared services agreement with the Clarksburg, Florida, Monroe, Rowe and Savoy school districts after being unable to find a certified and qualified candidate last year to take over the business administration post.
But the responsibilities of the post had changed over the past year, Malkas had explained last month. The School Department had received a number of large grants that required more coordination from the financial office than the part-time post could accommodate. Rather than hiring a grants manager, it seemed more productive to make the business administrator full time.
The School Committee had agreed to allow the shared services agreement to expire at the end of the fiscal year. Burnett had been with the school union for seven years.
Burnett said the fiscal 2020 budget timeline continues on target, with a draft proposal anticipated for next month's meeting.
"We have received the governor's budget. The word that we're receiving through the associations and other legislative bodies is that it is very much a work in progress," Malkas said. "We're using those figures really as a baseline because both legislative bodies are communicating about doing something about Chapter 70 state aid for schools."
The superintendent said they would be paying close attention to any changes in figures and how those might impact the budget. The committee also briefly touched on the government shutdown, with Malkas saying some grants could be impacted going into fiscal 2020, especially if another were to occur. There is enough funding in place, however, to cover the food program into June should that happen.
"Right now, we're hoping that there was at least sufficient turmoil to have the message that people really do notice when there's a government shutdown and that it affects so many people across the nation in so many ways," she said.
In other business:
The mayor thanked Burnett and others for their patience during a photo shoot by the city's insurer, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association. North Adams is being featured on the agency's annual report and Bernard asked that other staff come in to be photographed.
Burnett provided the answer to last month's question of how much the substitute teacher pay rate increase of 6.25 percent would cost: $3,500 for the year. The two other pay-rate increases for teacher assistants and substitute paraprofessionals will be the step one on the negotiated rate scale. Malkas said there was confusion in trying to compare to other districts last month because different terms were being used by other districts.
By past practice, the sub rate would be whatever step one is, she said. "By taking this option to accept this practice, it will be addressed in regular contract negotiations."
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As Thanksgiving approaches, it's meaningful to reflect on the origin of the holiday –Native Americans and pilgrims sharing their bounty of food with each other. As you gather with your loved ones this year, perhaps you can think of ways to share not only your dinner, but also your financial bounty.
In terms of bounty-sharing, here are some suggestions you may find helpful, no matter your age or that of your children:
* Make appropriate gifts. If you have young children, you may want to get them started with a savings account to help them develop positive financial habits. You could even make it a Thanksgiving tradition to measure how their accounts have grown from year to year. But you can go even further by starting to fund an education savings vehicle such as a 529 plan. This account can provide valuable tax benefits and gives you total control of the money until your children are ready for college or trade school. Other education-funding options also are available, such as a custodial account, commonly known as an UGMA or UTMA. If you have grown children, you could still contribute to a 529 plan for your grandchildren.
* Develop – and communicate – your estate plans. While you may want to be as generous as possible to your loved ones during your lifetime, you may desire to leave something behind as part of your legacy. And that means you will need to develop a comprehensive estate plan. Such a plan will allow you to express your wishes about where you want your assets to go, who will take care of your children if something happens to you, how you want to be treated should you become incapacitated, and other important issues. Your estate plan will need to include the appropriate documents and arrangements – last will and testament, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and so on. To create such a plan, you may need to work with a team of professionals, including your financial, tax and legal advisors. And it’s essential that you communicate the existence and details of your estate plan to your loved ones. By doing so, you can help them know what to expect and what’s expected of them to help avoid unpleasant surprises and familial squabbles when it’s time to settle your estate.
The Historical Society recently moved its museum from Western Gateway Heritage State Park to the first-floor of the Holiday Inn. Because this space is smaller, the entire collection could not be moved.
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