Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee to take up $16.7M budget plan at this week's meeting
SHEFFIELD — In the fall, operations at Southern Berkshire Regional schools will be similar to what they are now — but who's footing the bill is undergoing a dramatic swing.
Sheffield is slated to pay about $520,000 more to the district and New Marlborough would pay around $160,000 less next fiscal year, according to the proposed 2018-2019 school district budget.
The Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee held a hearing on the proposed budget Friday night.
The hike in Sheffield's assessment is the largest in dollars over the last five years for any member town. The previous record holder was New Marlborough; that town saw its assessment jump by $230,000 for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Overall, the budget being prepared by the Southern Berkshire Regional School District School Committee is near identical to this year's. The total operating budget being pitched to the five member towns — Sheffield, Egremont, Alford, New Marlborough and Monterey — is $16.7 million, which represents a 2 percent increase or $323,000 more over the current budget.
For the budget to go into effect, it must be approved at Town Meeting by at least four of the district's five members.
"We're mindful, when developing the assessments, to make it manageable for member towns," said Superintendent Beth Regulbuto.
To help bring down estimates, the school district is planning to draw $400,000 from its rainy day fund and apply it to next year's operating budget. If spent, this would leave about $300,000 in the fund.
The School Committee will vote on whether to approve the budget and send it to member towns to be ratified at their next meeting Thursday .
Southern Berkshire Regional District assessments are based on how many students a town is sending to the schools and the state's required minimum aid per-student standard. The assessment pays for education, transportation, materials and capital projects. Sheffield sends the most students, 337 anticipated for the fall, and New Marlborough sends the second most, 132.
The School Committee expects there will be 18 fewer students in the fall than there are now attending the regional schools. Since 2012, the Southern Berkshire Regional District student population has declined by 124 students.
For the 2018-2019 academic school year, Sheffield's assessment is slated to go up 8 percent, or $520,700 more, than this year. The town would pay $7.1 million to the district and send eight more students than last year.
New Marlborough's assessment is anticipated to decrease by 5.5 percent, or $166,600 less, to $2.84 million. The town is planning to send 20 fewer students.
Alford will see the biggest percentage increase in assessment compared to the other member towns. Alford's portion of the budget is slated to go up 11 percent, or $42,400, to $435,000. The town will send six more students to the district schools.
Monterey's assessment is anticipated to go up by 1 percent, or $10,600, to $1.6 million. The town will send six fewer students.
And Egremont's total assessment is predicted to fall by 0.4 percent, or $6,000 less, to $1.6 million. The town will send six fewer students.
While similar to this year, there are some differences between the current and future budgets. And there will be $36,000 more dollars for foreign language education and another $16,000 for music.
Kristin Palpini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @kristinpalpini on Twitter and 413-629.4621.
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