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School district hit with unexpected bill

By Levon Kinney

Staff Intern

WILBRAHAM A threatening budget deficit was reported by Dr. Paul Gagliarducci, Superintendent of the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD), to the School Committee who met at Stony Hill Elementary School Nov. 28.

"There was a large unexpected insurance bill of $300,000 from the group insurance commission. It is a state program that pools resources together for retirees. When the bill came in the increase was higher than we expected."

This would put the district in a $500,000 deficit; Gagliarducci has frozen the budget for now and is looking at strategies to utilize additional unanticipated revenue from the schools.

"I will present a solution to the committee in late December or early January," Gagliarducci told Reminder Publications. "That hopefully will help us get out of the situation we are in."


List Serve, an electronic mailing list that the administration can use to contact the parents of students in cases of emergency, is still gaining popularity. As of the meeting there were less than 200 parents signed up for the service. But Gagliarducci is optimistic saying, "Once there are enough members signed up the service will be used."

"We had a situation," Gagliarducci explained. "At noon [Nov. 28] several of the districts busses were refueled with contaminated gas which caused many of the busses to stall out."

The situation was solved when the Lower Pioneer Education Collaborative, which runs the bus company, was able to transfer several busses from another district to HWRSD.

"If this was not solved by the time school was out, we would have faced a serious situation," Gagliarducci said. "If we could contact the parents and notify them of the situation it would be extremely helpful."

Gagliarducci added that word of mouth would be responsible for more families registering for the service.

News From Minnechaug

Marty O'Shea, Principal of Minnechaug Regional High School, proposed the program of studies for the next school year to the school committee.

"Several new classes are being added and a few are being removed," O'Shea said. "Changes were made to the Fine Arts Department. Some classes were dropped while one was added."

Other departments such as English added three new classes, including "War Literature" and the History Department that added "20th Century Ethnic Conflict" as a class.

"The Math Department expanded its statistics program and the Science Department added an 'Advanced Placement Chemistry' class," O'Shea added.

Minnechaug Student Representative Doug Moore reported on the student body.

"Red Cross ran a blood-drive the Monday before Thanksgiving, which set a school record for donations," Moore said. "Winter sports will be starting soon and the school's Christmas Concert will be held on Dec. 5, at Minnechaug."

Moore was commended by the Committee for his efforts to reinstate the "As Schools Match Wits" program on TV-22.

In other School Committee news

"It will hopefully be back on the air in January," Moore said.

Stony Hill Elementary School will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2007. Peter Salerno, Vice Chair on the committee, presented Principal Rebecca DeSmith with a copy of the book '1776.'

"1776 is about sacrifice, it is about the founding of our country, it is about creating a great nation," Salerno said. "We are not Republicans, we are not Democrats, we are Americans who work together."

The 50th anniversary will be held in the summer of 2007 at Fountain Park in Wilbraham.

"The students will be dressed the way students dressed in 1957," DeSmith explained.

She added that a school lunch that would have been served in 1957 will be served; the comment was accompanied by groans from the committee members who remembered what lunch was like back then.

"We are also looking for famous or infamous alumni from Stony Hill to participate in the festivities," DeSmith said.