Amherst school officials detail budget cuts 

  • Amherst Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/27/2020 3:58:30 PM

AMHERST — A nearly $24 million budget that falls short of providing the same level of services to elementary school students in Amherst is being recommended by the Amherst School Committee.

The committee Tuesday voted 5-0 in favor of the spending plan, which is $748,549 below an earlier $24.66 million budget presented by Superintendent Michael Morris.

The new budget is now just $73,598 higher than the current year’s $23.84 million budget because of an anticipated steep drop in state aid and local revenue as a result of the pandemic.

The 0.3% increase means cuts, including $24,000 for an English Language Learners paraprofessional, $40,000 for an intervention teacher, and $12,000 for a math curriculum support role.

The budget still adds $60,000 for special education paraeducators who will be hired based on student needs.

The dual-language program Caminantes at Fort River, which began last fall in kindergarten with primary Spanish speakers and primary English speakers evenly divided, is also not expected to be affected by the budget reductions, Morris said.

A short time after the Amherst School Committee meeting, the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee voted 9-0 to support a $32.15 million budget for the regional schools.

That is $816,000 less than $32.96 million needed to maintain level services, and $21,811, or 0.7%, below the current year’s $32.17 million budget.

To reach the new budget, cuts include $60,000 from professional development, $75,000 for a middle school dean and $25,000 for not hiring a replacement for a person on leave in the art department.

Amherst Town Council, and annual Town Meetings in Shutesbury, Pelham, and Leverett will have to approve assessments for the regional budget to go into effect. Those assessments are $16.4 million for Amherst, $1.68 million for Shutesbury, $891,934 for Pelham, and $1.47 million for Leverett.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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