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The Adams Finance Committee and Selectmen review changes to the Adams-Cheshire school budget.

Adams Finance Committee Approve Adams-Cheshire Budget

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen and Finance Committee on Monday reviewed an amended Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget that has maintained a 1.77 percent increase.
 
The joint meeting was held to look over the fiscal 2020, $20 million school spending plan and review a change made to mitigate an assessment formula error.
 
"We definitely appreciate the opportunity to clear any errors that were made from the initial budget presentation and present some slight changes to you," Superintendent John Vosburgh said. "Whenever any of us make a mistake we take it personally we don't want to tarnish relationships with the towns."
 
Business Manager Erika Snyder said instead of using the district-required minimum contribution number in the town assessment calculations, she used the mandated local contribution from the towns — as she has done in the past.
 
"Although it says town-required local contribution it is not just the towns' local contribution for us, which is where the mistake on my part was made assuming that this pertained strictly to the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District," she said. "The town-required local contribution represents the town minimal contribution for all districts which belong, which includes us and McCann [Technical School]."
 
Instead of using $3,757,565 (the district required minimum contribution) Snyder said she used the town-required local contribution of $4,544,723.
 
"The larger number was used for the minimum pushing less into the over minimum," she said. "When we reduce that number, more gets pushed into that bucket that is assessed at the 75/25 enrollment split."
 
Snyder said the new numbers would increase Adams' assessment, however, the plan is to use the excess and deficiency account and other revenues to keep the Adams assessment the same as originally proposed.
 
"This decreased the amount of foundation that is assessed to both towns so it doesn't change our budget," she said. "It just reduced the amount of foundation that is filtered through to the towns."
 
The bottom line of the budget will not change.
 
Adams' total assessment within the levy limit will remain $5,140,669 while Cheshire will see a decrease and a new assessment of $2,499,682.
 
She said this mistake also occurred in the fiscal year 2019 budget and there is a near $107,000 discrepancy between the town assessments that the district will try to correct within the current budget.
 
Snyder said she is currently in touch with the state to see what options the district has.
 
"We want to see if we can resolve this in the same manner ... we may have the opportunity to mitigate that error with revenues on our end and appropriating some more from E and D," she said. "But I don't want to go down one path until what we know what those paths are."
 
Vosburgh thanked Snyder for investigating the issue immediately and said she went far beyond what a typical business manager would do.
 
Snyder added that in her conversations with the state Department of Education, it was noted that the change in format was not clear.
 
"It has been helpful to them that I reached out, and the person I spoke to was not aware that the format on that page had changed," she said. "They understood how that mistake could be made and assumed there were other districts that have made the same mistake so they want to make it more clear going forward."
 
Snyder said she would inform the Selectmen what options it has to right the fiscal 2019 budget once she hears back from the state.
 
The Finance Committee then reviewed the actual budget that has no real additions but maintains what the district currently has in terms of positions and programming.
 
Funds were optimized and a reading interventionist and learning lab teacher were added and increases were driven by fixed costs and contractual increases.

Tags: ACRSD_budget,   fiscal 2020,   

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Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Mulls Possible Expansion

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
ADAMS, Mass. — The solid waste district is hoping for a decision from North Adams, and possibly Dalton, before considering service contracts.
 
The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management Commission on Thursday discussed the bid process for servicing the district and, with the possibility of North Adams coming on board, Program Coordinator Linda Cernik wants to ensure they use every resource available.
 
"This is a very, very important bid coming up. There can't be any mistakes, any hiccups, nothing. With the possibility of North Adams joining the district, and maybe Dalton, we have to get this right," Cernik said. "We met with Williams College and the four students doing the study (about North Adams joining the district) and they are going to present to the City Council in December."
 
The possible inclusion of North Adams and Dalton would be especially convenient this year as both municipalities' solid waste contracts expire on June 30, the same date as the district's.
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