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Hoosac Valley Regional Begins Budget Discussions

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Hoosac Valley Regional School District has begun budget discussions and plans to present a spending plan for fiscal 2022 in March.
"We are in the middle of budget season," Superintendent Aaron Dean said at Monday's school committee meeting. "In the middle of everything we are in right now, we have to build a budget that is reflective of everything we want to do."
Business Manager Erika Snyder said the district anticipates a small increase in Chapter 70 education funding typical of past years. She said funding will likely go up $30 per foundation enrollment student. 
All in all, she said, the district would be looking at a $21,875 increase that will likely not cover fixed increases. 
"We can't do much with that," Snyder said. "Any kind of increase we find in our budget falls to the towns. So we have some work to do in terms of getting our budget to where we can present it to the School Committee and the towns."
Dean said he will work with his cabinet to refine the budget and determine what can be cut and what additions will be made.
Plus, he said, there are some grant opportunities that the district can tap into.
The School Committee will hold its budget hearing on March 8 and the committee will vote on March 29. The budget will be presented to Cheshire the next day, on March 30.
Dean also asked the School Committee for some guidance in regard to possible renegotiations of the central office lease with the town of Cheshire.
"I think this is a good opportunity ... to look at what our options are, see what other costs are out there and what is available that would fit our budget," Dean said.
After a series of discussions between the town and Dean, both parties agreed it was worth revisiting the agreement that was in need of refinement and clarification on the use of the former Cheshire School. 
Dean asked committee members if they were interested in increasing the district's footprint in the building. He also asked, depending on if the town asks for an increase, if the School Committee would consider looking at new locations.
The current three-year lease is $10,000 annually.
Dean noted that this is an affordable price, however, the district does provide internet for the building and its presence helps lower the town's insurance costs.
He added that conditions in the building are not optimal and that the district actually has less room now that the Youth Center leases a portion of the structure.
"There are certainly some challenges with the space but we make it work and do the best we can to live within our budget," Dean said. "I don't know how high they want to go but it might be worth a look."
Dean said there is no room in Hoosac Valley Elementary School and, because Hoosac Valley is state-funded building, it cannot house the central office. Dean said there may be other opportunities in Adams.
The committee agreed to wait to see what the town returns with but gave Dean the go-ahead to explore other options.
The School Committee also approved an updated District Improvement Plan
"I want people to know the bus hasn't stopped with this, and we continue to refine our practices," Dean said. 

Tags: fiscal 2022,   HVRSD_budget,   

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Cheshire Receives Funds to Address Route 116

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town has received partial funding through a MassWorks grant to pave a portion of Route 116.
Highway Superintendent Robert Navin told the Selectmen on Tuesday that the town received $200,000 from the state to pave about half of the state road.
"That is the big news and at least we can pave the worst half of it, the upper section," he said. "That will be as soon as the weather breaks."
Navin said the town first applied for the project in full through MassWorks, but they were unsuccessful.
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