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Hoosac Valley School Committee Accepts Fiscal 2021 Budget

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Hoosac Valley Regional School Committee has accepted a $20.1 million budget for fiscal 2021 that will mean the loss of 20 positions. 
The $20,100,111 spending plan approved earlier this month eliminates 18 paraprofessionals and two teachers and is essentially level funded.
"Any time you have to reduce staff in a budget it is painful personally and professionally," Superintendent Aaron Dean said. "However, this year's budget required a reset, so we can be sustainable moving forward."
Dean said budget numbers did not change from the initial March budget hearing but there were some changes to the reductions. To minimize the affect on teaching staff, two special education coordinators posts were eliminate and replaced with an associate director position.
"This change allowed us to keep a much needed elementary teaching position in place in response to growing enrollment in the elementary school," Dean said. "Many of the reductions, mostly paraprofessionals, were steps we took to right-size programming in the middle and high schools."
The entire budget is only up $624 and Adams will see an assessment of $5,925,327 and Cheshire $2,855,411.
Dean said this budget cuts the district's reliance on excess and deficiency funds to reduce town assessments.
"This reality forced school leaders to look closely at every area of their building based budgets," he said. "There are better ways we can structure supports to be more efficient and effective and this budget plan is our first step in making those adjustments."
He expected the district in coming years will build out multi-tiered systems of support to provide effective early intervention and use data systems to better target those supports.   
Dean did add that he has concerns about the economic slowdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the fiscal 2021 budget. Legislators are starting over on budget scenarios with the expectation that billions in revenue will be lost because of the pandemic.
"While we have put together a responsible budget, there's a lot of uncertainty on the state and local levels," he said. "I'm fairly certain the process will carry well into the summer based on information we're getting from state and local officials. At this point we'll prepare a few different scenarios, understanding the situation with reduced revenues.
"However, with so many unknowns we really need to let the process play itself out."

Tags: fiscal 2021,   HVRSD,   HVRSD_budget,   

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Cheshire Interim Town Administrator to Begin Search For Replacement

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber will collect information from the Selectmen to help in the permanent town administrator search process.
"The interim's job is to work himself out of a job," Webber said Tuesday.
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV resigned from the position late in 2020. Webber, who served as town administrator before St. John, agreed to step into the role in an interim capacity.
Webber asked that all input be sent to him via email. He said input would help build a job description. For example, Webber asked if the selectmen wanted a full-time, part-time, or shared town administrator. He also wanted to know what kind of authority the new town administrator should have.
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