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Committee approves 2014 school budget

Date: 5/10/2013

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM — Less than two weeks after Mayor Richard Cohen introduced the town's Capital Improvement Plan, the School Committee unanimously approved the $38.08 million fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget on April 23.

During his presentation of the finalized budget on April 9, Superintendent William Sapelli stressed that the level-service budget maintained the current staffing and programs offered without incorporating additional fees.

"Agawam Public Schools continues to respond to the challenges of educating our children. These challenges include meeting unfunded state and federal mandates, yet remaining fiscally responsible by only requesting what is absolutely necessary in fiscally uncertain times. In preparing the FY14 proposed budget, we have strived to ensure that students, staff and buildings are well-equipped with the needed resources to provide students with a quality education," Sapelli stated.

One of the main needs listed in the budget are updated textbooks for a total of $191,000. During the preliminary budget discussions, the committee members had many questions regarding this line item.

School Committee member Anthony Bonavita was initially concerned that the early draft of the FY14 budget didn't have enough money designated to support a sufficient supply of textbooks.

Sapelli addressed his concern stating that while some of the textbooks had older copyright dates, the classes were taught using multiple resources to supplement the books.

Assistant Superintendent Allison LeClair added that some of the older textbooks were not in need of updating due to low enrollment in the classes.

Other line items included are $69,173 for computer software, license and hardware and $92,321 for the cost of out-of-district tuition.

The achievements of Agawam High School students were also discussed during the April 9 presentation. According to Sapelli, 88 percent of graduates continue on to attend two- or four-year colleges.

From the 2013 senior class, 163 students were awarded the "Agawam Academic A," an honor given to students that maintain a 3.0 GPA from freshman year to the first semester of their senior year.

The City Council has tentatively scheduled a public hearing for the town's Capital Improvement Plan June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Roberta G. Doering School, located at 68 Main St.