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Easthampton School Committee to vote on level-services budget for coming year

The school budget, which represents a 2 percent increase over the current year’s $17.10 million spending plan, is contingent on city funding of $15.61 million, according to figures from the school department. That represents an increase of 3 percent over the city’s appropriation of $15 million to the schools for the current fiscal year.

If the city decides not to increase its appropriation from the current year, the schools would face a shortfall of $609,412. In that case, the budget balancing plan would include reductions of $282,245, including a staff position at Easthampton High School, a tutor and a half-time staff position at White Brook Middle School, and $12,000 in technology maintenance and $129,000 in special education services districtwide.

Reached at his office Monday, Mayor Michael A. Tautznik said he will not likely determine until the third week in April what appropriations will be for various city departments.

At this point, he said, it’s unlikely the city will be able to make up for the projected $600,000 shortfall. But, he said, “there could be a change if there is additional state aid.”

A public hearing on the proposed schools budget will be held at 7 p.m. at 50 Payson Avenue, when residents will have a chance to ask questions and make comments.

Superintendent Nancy Follansbee noted that while a level-services budget maintains current staff and programs in the city schools, it does not make up for reductions made in recent budget years.

Cuts to balance the budget for this year, for example, included an English teacher at EHS, a world languages teacher at White Brook Middle School and four teaching positions in the elementary grades.

Follansbee added that a level-services budget does not provide for any expansion of staff or programs for students.

“We’ve had a lot of communication with parents about what they want in our schools,” she said. “If we have to eliminate or reduce more positions, there will be questions about how we can do those things.”

The largest portion of the budget — $11.39 million — is for instructional services. The proposed plan provides $840,186 for school administration; $1.68 million for operations and maintenance; $1.13 million for transportation, health services, athletics and student activities; and $2.2 million for tuition for Easthampton students attending other school districts through special education placements or school choice.

Follansbee said the proposed budget is posted on the Easthampton School District’s website.

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