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.
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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life
Submitted by Edward Jones
As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life.
Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them:
• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly.
• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals.
• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement.
• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily.
As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.
Wayne Gelinas and Lea King have been forced to shutter their Mohawk Trail eatery, at least for the time being. But they have found a way to continue business online while providing free meals to those in need.
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