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The McCann School Committee recommended a fiscal 2020 budget of $9.6 million on Thursday.

McCann School Committee Endorses $9.6M Budget for Fiscal 2020

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McCann School Committee on Thursday approved a straightforward budget that represents a 2.36 percent increase over this year.
The committee members had few questions about what Superintendent James Brosnan referred to as "vanilla" fiscal 2020 budget that will increase by $220,769.
"There are not a lot of frills or add-ons here. The increases are just a lot of things we don't have control over," School Committee member Daniel J. Maloney Jr. said. "We consider this a balanced budget that just really maintains. It does not move us forward a lot and it keeps us where we are."
The fiscal 2019 budget of $9,343,958 held a .04 percent increase and the fiscal 2020 budget of $9,564,727 increase is driven by the same circumstances — fixed costs.
"Just opening the door first day of school and keeping things the way they are is an automatic 2.5 percent increase," Maloney said. "With salary increases, insurance increases, electricity, heating, and other fixed costs."
Maloney added that the projected Chapter 70 is $4,760,314 which is an increase of $71,598. He said this simply does not keep up with increasing mandated costs and more and more of the financial burden has been shifted to the member towns.
He added transportation funds are projected to be $275,000, which is a slight increase of $10,000.
This leaves a majority of the rest of the budget to be funded by the towns. Maloney said the vocational school district does its best to keep these cost increases at a minimum so the municipal assessments are less of a hit.
"When the state does not meet the obligations that they place on us, the costs keep getting pushed to the communities," Maloney said. "We had this last year and a lot of the communities are hitting their levy limits. As much as they want to do everything they can to provide a good education, there is just not enough money."
Brosnan said member town populations have really stayed constant over the years.
"It is fairly consistent if you go across you can see that they are in a dead heat in most communities," he said. "Plus or minus a few students every year."
North Adams and Adams still have the highest number of students in the district with 139 and 134, respectively. North Adams can expect an assessment of $927,143 and Adams, $1,010,634.
Cheshire has the next highest assessment of $440,802; Clarksburg of $345,051, and Williamstown of $323,311.
The remainder of the member towns will all be assessed under $216,000, which is Florida's assessment.
The Member Municipality Assessments totals $3,818,351.
Brosnan speedily continued through the budget, which is essentially level funded. There were some minor decreases as well as increases mostly under $10,000.
Teachers, academic, and technical salaries increased from $4,103,529 to $4,178,643. These are fixed costs.
There was also an increase in the paraprofessionals from $35,240 to $75,680.
Brosnan noted that building maintenance was also bumped up from $86,960 to $115,850. He said these costs are increasing because the building and its utilities are just aging.
"Things like our heating unit motor have to be replaced and repaired because things are almost 60 years old," he said.
Brosnan said now that the School Committee has recommended the budget it can be sent out to member towns for consideration. 
"I am confident that this budget provides our students with the quality of education that they have come accustomed to," he said.
In other business, Principal Justin Kratz said the district's new website is now live.
"I am excited to share with you the website tonight we have been working on it since the beginning of the year," he said. "It is a much cleaner look than the old page ... the home page before was very cluttered."
The School Committee voted last year to allocate $25,000 from the tuition account to hire Finalsite to create a new website for the school.

Tags: fiscal 2020,   McCann,   school budget,   

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North Adams Piloting Four Street Changes for Safe Streets Grant

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Traffic Commission signed off on a number of options for increasing outdoor dining and creating safer pedestrian ways in the downtown. 
At a meeting in late July, Zachery Feury, project coordinator in the Office of Community Development, gave the commission a presentation on more refined plans for the city's application to the Shared Streets and Spaces grant program.
The state program is designed to give communities resources for converting public ways into shared spaces because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state's reopening plans prioritize outside gathering spaces as a way to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus while aiding local businesses and promoting social distancing. 
Feury had presented the options to local businesses in early July and some spaces, such as the closure of a section of Center Street, have already been implemented. The areas under consideration are Eagle Street, North Church Street, Main Street and Center Street.
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