Superintendent Kimberley Grady brought good news to Lanesborough town officials Wednesday in the form of a slightly smaller school budget for fiscal 2021.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The news of a smaller school budget for fiscal 2021 was welcomed on all fronts in Lanesborough.
Mount Greylock Regional School District Superintendent Kimberley Grady presented the preliminary school budget to a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and Selectmen on Wednesday night.
"There will be a very slight decrease from last year's budget," Grady told the assembled town officials. She was assisted by members of the district's administration including Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald, Lanesborough Elementary Principal Nolan Pratt, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Andrea Wadsworth and several members of the School Committee.
If the budget is accepted at its current numbers by town meeting, Lanesborough's assessment will go from $5,769,249 to $5,761,836, a drop of roughly 0.13 percent.
"Mount Greylock has had a great deal of activity over the last few years with the project of regionalization that formalized on July 1, 2018. It was great to have a full team working on this process. Nolan being new, some people on the [School] Board being new. It's the first time as a region we've had all our positions filled where we could go in aligned and clean things up so we are transparent for the community," said the under-the-weather Grady. "I kept looking at line items and saying there are too many zeroes, once I got to a negative number I stopped."
Regionalization necessitated a different budget process as several costs, most notably health care, were shifted from the individual towns to the district as a whole.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Jodi-Lee Szczepaniak Locke was impressed by the inclusion of all levels of the administration in the process.
"Less money is always good. The fact that the principals and School Committee felt that they were listened to and they feel confident that the budget was in favor of supporting our children and education here in our communities," she said.
Henry "Hank" Sayers, speaking as acting chairman for the Board of Selectmen in John Goerlach's absence, added a typically short and positive assessment of the presentation.
"I'm glad to hear it's a negative figure, simple enough," he said.
Grady said the budget process helps to identify not only the cost of education for the district, but also helps her and her staff take a big picture look at the health of the district as a whole.
"We've got a lot of great activities going on, with regionalization finalized, we have finalized the teachers' contracts, Mary [MacDonald] would like to stay within the district in a position, Joelle [Brookner, principal Williamstown Elementary] took a very strong move to a district position after 28 years so I'm psyched to have a director of curriculum instruction. We have a director of academic technologies. We have a vision."
She summed up what this all means for the students and how it leads to a thriving school district.
"We have the Student Opportunity Act, multi-tiered system of support, it's really us drilling down and doing great things for kids. We've got very low out-of-district numbers so we're keeping our kids in the neighborhood schools and we're out there in the community with our students," she said. "Right now, it's good."
Grady said she plans on bringing the Williamstown officials the same good news of a flat budget at a meeting with them on Thursday night.
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Lanesborough Hoping to Reopen Recycling Process Soon
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
Newly elected Selectman Michael Murphy, center, participates in his first meeting on Thursday night.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectman welcomed new member Michael Murphy, elected last week, to the board with a fairly light load Thursday evening.
Cable TV contracts, Gulf Road and recycling were on the agenda among other items.
At their last meeting, the board had decided to keep Gulf Road closed until Dalton was comfortable opening the seasonal dirt byway. It serves as a shortcut between Lanesborough and Dalton and allows drivers to avoid shopping related traffic at Allendale Plaza and Berkshire Crossing in Pittsfield. It also could serve as an emergency detour should Route 8 be closed for any reason.
On Thursday, the board again voted but this time to reopen the road. But Murphy said he had spoken to a resident of Gulf Road who had wanted to advocate for the road to stay closed. This led into a discussion of why there is no public comment portion of the meeting since participation is now limited because of Town Hall being closed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Finance Committee member Michael P. Murphy easily ousted incumbent Hank Sayers, 295-156. Sayers has served on the board since winning a special election in 2013 to fill a vacant seat.
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Town Moderator Chris Dodig kicked off the meeting by explaining the town's thought process in deciding to have the meeting at all despite the novel cooronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the municipal budget process across the state and forced many towns to postpone meetings and even some... click for more