NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A draft budget for the public schools has been amended to include the addition of a full-time music teacher.
This would change the proposed budget from $18,701,209 to $18,757,788, or an increase of 5.65 percent over this year.
The decrease in instrumental instruction in the elementary schools had raised concerns at the Finance and Facilities subcommittee. Member Tara Jacobs, in particular, had pointed out that the School Committee’s position had been that music instruction would be restored once the pandemic had receded.
The district had 1.8 full-time equivalent music teachers and this new post will restore at least half that time.
On Monday, the subcommittee was presented with two scenarios: the first would keep the original two stipended positions at $7,266 and the second add a full-time teacher at a master’s level at $63,845. The committee voted unanimously for the second option.
“The budget is very dynamic. We are really working to identify areas of reallocation, savings, as well as taking the feedback that we received at the last meeting which was to add back instrumental music instruction at the elementary level,” said Superintendent Barbara Malkas. “This doesn’t get us back to that full capacity of the 1.8 [FTE] but it does get us quite a ways into providing that elementary instrumental music instruction, as well as some support for choral instruction at the high school.”
The “itinerant” teacher will split their time between the three elementary schools with a 45-minute period at the end of the day at the junior high. Their salary would be $63,846 with $19,154 charged at each elementary school and $6,385 at the high school.
The base for Option 1 included a $1,290 increase because of staffing changes since the budget’s presentation earlier in the month. Taking out the stipends at $7,266, the budget would increase $56,579 for the new teacher.
The total increase would be $988,713 over this year. The goal is to level fund to this year’s figure of $17,769,075. So far, no school choice funds have been allocated toward the budget. Malkas reminded them that the budget also includes a new special education teacher at Drury High to keep the school in compliance with the individual educational plans caseload.
“I just want to thank you very much for the work and for listening to the concerns that I had and addressing them,” said Jacobs.
Member Emily Daunis said it is sad that the arts are often cut and aren’t necessarily treated as important as other subjects but can have a real impact on young children.
“Band is like a different team activity that can really also bring a point of pride to your high school and we want to keep the pipeline going,” she said. “So thank you to you both. I know this does add a little to the bottom line for the year keeping us at a 5 percent increase, just a slightly higher 5 percent increase.”
Mayor Jennifer Macksey also voted to present the School Committee next week with the budget including option 2.
“I will say that with a little asterix that I’m still number crunching and seeing where the budget is going to come in,” she said. “So I reserve the right to come back to the finance committee. We may need to tweak a little here and there, but I don’t think it should be in music or choral.”
The subcomittee is also recommending a million-dollar three-year bus contract with DuFour Tours.
Business Administrator Nancy Rauscher said the final contract will be for $327 per bus for 17 buses, which is a 9.58 percent increase over this year’s $298. The contract is by bus should the schools have to reconfigure routes.
The total would be $1,000,620 and run from Sept. 1, 2022, to Aug. 31, 2025, with adjustments each year based on the five-year average of the consumer price index.
Jacobs asked about security cameras and Malkas said all the cameras had been updated fairly recently and the school’s policy was a rolling 30 days — video would be held for 30 days before it began recording over. The bus company was also using the same disinfecting protocol used in the classroom, she added.
“Even though that 10 percent feels high and sounds high and is high, everything is relative,” said Rauscher. “We were hearing from some other districts, particularly in the south part of Berkshire County, that their bids were coming in substantially higher as a percentage increase over what they’ve been paying previously.
Tags: fiscal 2023, NAPS_budget,