Goshen Town Meeting approves $2.4 million budget
GOSHEN — Fifty-nine of 742 registered voters turned out for Monday’s annual Town Meeting, passing a fiscal 2014 budget of $2,423,530, which includes $630,888 for the Chesterfield-Goshen School District, $399,350 for the Hampshire Regional School District and $229,294 for Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
Much of the evening’s discourse focused on the Chesterfield-Goshen Regional School District budget. The district had requested $644,341 but the Finance Committee had recommended $596,185, almost $50,000 less.
“If we give the schools what they are looking for, we don’t know where we will get that money,” Finance Committee member Nancy Grove said.
The Finance Committee had suggested that if the full requested amount was approved, it might have to be contingent on a Proposition 2½ override.
New Hingham Regional Elementary School Principal Rosemary Larkin said the Finance Committee’s recommendation would result in teacher layoffs and cuts to programs at the school.
Resident Norene Roberts said that during a recession the town couldn’t afford to be spending that kind of money on the schools.
“I am not going to vote for any increase in the schools when we are looking at a student-to-teacher ratio of 11 students to 1 teacher,” Roberts said. “That is the same ratio as an expensive private school.”
Larkin focused on the quality of the education students were getting, telling those gathered that funding for current programs and faculty is what made New Hingham one of the highest-achieving schools in western Massachusetts.
“Your school is now a No. 1 level school. It will not maintain that level if you are cutting programs and teachers,” Larkin said. “Right now, students are moving from New Hingham on to the high school, and graduating from the high school, college and career ready.”
After much discussion, voters struck a compromise, approving a level-funded Chesterfield-Goshen Regional School District budget of $630.888.
Also approved at Monday’s meeting were:
∎ $190,000 for a heavy-duty truck for the Highway Department;
∎ $40,000 for a police cruiser;
∎ $24,230 for SoftRight accounting software; and
∎ $1,800 for additional police surveillance equipment.