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McCann School Committee Passes Fiscal 2022 Budget

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McCann School Committee accepted a $10.3 million budget that represents a 2.69 percent increase over fiscal 2021.
 
Superintendent James Brosnan presented the fiscal 2022 budget Thursday night that has increased nearly $270,000 over this year's $10,038,602 spending plan.
 
As in past years, Brosnan told the School Committee of the regional vocational district it was a conservative budget and not to expect anything flashy in it.
 
"I can't really think of a better word. I say it over and over and you get sick of hearing it," Brosnan said. "It really is kind of a vanilla budget."
 
School Committee member Daniel Maloney, Jr. reiterated this and said the bulk of the increase lies with contracted salary increases among staff. He said much of the budget is level-funded. 
 
"There is little control we have over aspects of this budget," he said. "There are fixed expenses that seem to creep up every year."
 
He did note that the school will use Student Opportunity Act funds to bring on three new teachers to lower class sizes and expand programming.
 
He added that the school has also received a $300,000 state grant to make improvements to the heating and air conditioning system to improve air quality. He said this becomes more important during the pandemic.
 
"Jim is always very proactive with these grants," Maloney said. "He always has a list."
 
Brosnan said other capital expenditures include simple maintenance projects.
 
The superintendent said health insurance through the Berkshire Health Group is also, thankfully, level-funded again.
 
"That is immensely helpful," he said.
 
Brosnan said he would alert the member towns that the School Committee accepted a budget.  
 
"It is a strong budget that maintains our academic and vocational focus," Chairman Gary Rivers said. "This really improves our overall educational offerings at McCann."
 
In other business, Principal Justin Kratz said the school recently held its local SkillsUSA competition and will hold a district competition in the near future.
 
"There is not so much a difference in quality but in quantity," he said. "The competitions were shortened because of the scheduling."
 
He said the district competition is essentially a computer test so he felt it would be easy to pull off virtually with proper COVID-19 precautions.
 
The competition is on March 9 and 46 students qualified. The next stage is states. Kratz said he does not know at this point what states will look like.
 
"We will see how it pans out and develops, but we are certainly happy to have our kids compete," he said.
 
Rivers said he was happy the competition was going forward and noted it brought some normality to a strange year.
 
"It gives them a little bit of what they are used to," he said.

Tags: fiscal 2022,   McCann,   school budget,   

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North Adams Council to Review Hydrant Ordinance Next Week

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday referred an ordinance change regarding fire hydrants to the General Government Committee over the originator's protests. 
 
City Councilor Jason LaForest had initially submitted the proposal for the creation of a "Fire Hydrant Division" with a request to refer to his Public Safety Committee but on Tuesday night instead asked it be fast-tracked to publication and a second reading. 
 
The rest of the council balked at taking a shortcut in the process, rejecting the motion and voting 8-1 to send the language to the General Government with only LaForest voting no. 
 
The ordinance relates to issues regarding non-functioning fire hydrants and how information is shared between the Water Department and police dispatch. Two recent fires highlighted problems with the hydrants; officials say about 130 of the 631 hydrants in the city are nonfunctioning in some way. The city has been working for a decade to address faulty hydrants of which nearly half had been dysfunctional back in 2011. 
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