Superintendent Barbara Malkas shows off her office. The old signs haven't been removed and Mayor Thomas Bernard joked that some of them were still applicable.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee on Tuesday approved a spending plan for fiscal 2020 of $18 million.
Some $265,000 in school choice funds is being used to offset the budget, bringing the total down to $17.769 million. That represents an increase of $348,414 over this year, or 2 percent.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas said the School Committee has annually transferred $250,000 in school choice funds and that this year an additional $15,000 was being requested to cover the stipend for the school nurse leader approved earlier this year.
"The budget is a level service budget," she said. "Using the right of assignment, the budget does represent resource allocation of some positions, specifically at Drury High School ... no one has lost their position."
Revenues include $13,795,263 in Chapter 70 state aid and the city's contribution of $3,973,812 toward net school spending, based on the governor's budget proposal. Several line items were voted separately with committee members who had relatives in those departments abstaining from the vote; the entire bottom line budget was then approved by the committee.
The School Department budget and the assessment for McCann Technical School will be reviewed by the Finance Committee on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
One savings this year is in the rental line item reflecting Central Office's move over spring break to the second floor of City Hall and savings of about $56,500 for the coming year.
The offices moved from over the Berkshire Bank where they had been located since construction started on Colegrove Park Elementary School. City offices including inspections, community development, the administrative officer and purchasing began moving downstairs after the new year. The credit union relocated to the former Wall-Streeter mill on Union Street and public services to the new City Yard. The mayor's office will remain on the second floor for the time being.
Malkas gave brief tour of the new Central Office after the public hearing on the budget. The second floor is now locked off just past the mayor's office. The second floor conference room now holds the School Department's furniture and bookcases but is still accessible for use by city officials.
Staff have so far been pleased with the space and configuration, including having a plethora of windows.
"So everyone's really excited about windows that they can open and daylight," Malkas said.
The superintendent was complimentary of Robert Flaherty, director of facilities for the schools, for getting all the offices repainted and overseeing the modifications.
In other business, the committee approved a shared services agreement that made the North Adams Public Schools the contractor for the North Berkshire Academy. The collaborative special education program opened last year at the Armory to be run by Collaborative for Educational Services.
Because CES is located in Northampton, the school district was paying a high tuition rate but couldn't become a member to get a discount.
"The program is currently housing 10 students, seven of which are North Adams Public Schools students," Malkas explained. "So we're already paying tuition for them. The stafC there were all staff of the Collaborative for Education Services. By agreement, they will become staff members of North Adams Public Schools servicing that specific program."
North Adams will take responsibility as fiscal agent for the program and member school districts will pay tuition to keep the program self-sustaining. Member districts are North Adams, Hoosac Valley Regional, Mount Greylock Regional and Northern Berkshire School Union.
The program is for children who before would be sent of district for services. Annual tuition for participating districts is $33,500 per student and $41,500 for non-members.
• The School Committee voted to waive tuition for a Stamford, Vt., student attending middle school at Drury High School. Stamford had paid for this year but declined to cover next year. Malkas said the student was doing very well at Drury and teachers felt it would disruptive to put the student back at Stamford for one year. The waiver is considered "non-precedent setting." Tuition for Stamford students is set at $12,303 for next fiscal year, up 3 percent from this year's $11,944; the town does pay tuition for its high school students who mostly attend Massachusetts schools.
• The committee approved hiring the New England School Development Council to do a "Best Educational Use of School Facilities" study in relation to the submission to the statement of interest submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
NESDEC will analyze and assess present and future educational needs in looking at Greylock, Brayton, Colegrove Park and Drury (with a focus on Greylock) including enrollment projections, capacity, programming and building utilization, operations and deficiencies. The committee also approved the transfer of $16,985 from the school choice revolving fund to pay for the study.
• The committee approved a new bicycle policy for students who bike to school and postponed until the next meeting a social media policy to add language referring to the use of school department devices by employees and strengthening oversight on posting pictures of students.
• Both Malkas and Food Services Director Corey Nicholas are both being recognized; Malkas is getting an award from her peers and Nicholas for the high rate of participation in the district's breakfast program.
• Student representative Andrew Callahan was bid farewell at his last meeting. Callahan will be graduating June 6 and attending Rochester(N.Y.) Institute of Technology in the fall.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Helme last year receiving the PopCares Community Partner Award for her efforts on behalf of local nonprofits and other groups.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's director of tourism has been named the 2019-20 Woman of Achievement by the Northern Berkshire Business and Professional Women's Club.
Suzy Helme began as the part-time events coordinator in 2015, later becoming the full-time director of tourism and community events. In her role, she organizes much of the city's annual events such as the Downtown Celebration and the concert series at Windsor Lake, as well as coordinating with organizations and institutions such as the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts and local charities on affiliated activities within the city.
The club will make the award at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Bounti-Fare Restaurant
in Adams. Networking will begin at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6.
Instead of focusing on what people were afraid of with new challenges of community investment, participants in the October forum were asked to instead look at what "inclusive development" they would like to see. click for more
Trustee Chairwoman Robin Martin told the rest of the board last week that she has solicited input from the public and those close to Cariddi and there was a consensus that something visual should be done to memorialize the late state representative at the library.
click for more
And now Honig and a group of other regular contributors on the page are targeting one specific need in the community: resources for those without housing stability. That grew from a post on the page where someone was searching for a tent to provide shelter while they were without permanent housing. click for more