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Committee will submit SOI forms

By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM At last week's meeting, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee said they will submit their Statement of Interest forms to the Board of Selectmen of both Wilbraham and Hampden, reflecting the Committee's interest in a school building project Minnechaug Regional High School. The official form will be sent to the state on May 2.

A Statement of Interest for such projects became a requirement when the Massachusetts School Building Authority deemed it a necessity in January a school district can not submit school building project to the state without it.

Under the Massachusetts School Building Authority, tours of Massachusetts school districts have been organized. According to assessments, schools will fall under various categories. School Committee Chair Scott R. Chapman said the district is also waiting to hear back from the state on what sort of project MRHS is categorized as; he said they are expecting MRHS to fall under cateory three or four.

"Category three [means] the building needs extensive renovations. Presumably with category three [the state] would fund their share of renovation costs," Chapman said. "Category four [means] the building needs to be replaced. What category we're in coincides with the Statement of Interest being filed."

A Statement of Interest form defines the priorites school construction and renovation projects must fall under.

Chapman said finding out Hampden-Wilbraham's category is the key thing.

"It influences our planning," he added.

In other School Committee news:

Chapman said the Massachusetts House of Representatives' budget cuts state aid tremendously in comparison to what Governor Mitt Romney's Buget proposed.

"The big budget issue was the House budget," Chapman said. "It came out on Monday and they cut the amount of Chapter 70 (state aid) from the Governor's number."

Chapman said the difference in the House's budget could cut about $300,000 from the district's budget. He plans to write letters to the House Speaker and western Massachusetts delegates asking them to restore the numbers to match the Governor's, if not surpass it.

"[If] we have to live with the House number, it is going to affect our bottom line," Chapman added.