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School Committee wants public input

By Dan Cooper

Staff Intern

LONGMEADOW "We have three different budget proposals before us that we are hoping to even out before the Town Meeting on April 24," Vice-Chair James Nittoli told the School Committee during their March 26 meeting.

Nittoli said the Select Board and Finance Committee's budgets for fiscal year 2008 were different from the School Committee's.

"The Finance Committee has our budget with an additional $400,000 in it," he said. "That could end up being our budget."

Committee member Jerold Duquette said, "The public needs to be educated about the budget issue. We need to get out and let the town know. I'd like our argument expanded."

Duquette said more participation from the public is useful. The School Committee agreed to hold a public forum before their next meeting on April 9 to discuss the budget with the town before the annual Town Meeting.

"Everyone has to have proper information," Nittoli said.

Superintendent E. Jahn Hart gave the committee a security update with her report.

"We have hired a security consultant for the schools and we signed a contract with a company that will help us contact parents by phone or e-mail in the case of an emergency," Hart said. "We are currently working on getting walkie-talkies to use as well."

Hart added that the phones at Blueberry Hill School are now working. "There was a damaged motherboard, a sign of our aging equipment," she said.

Assistant Superintendent Maureen Wilson added that an emergency crisis plan is being developed.

Committee member Christine Swanson then presented ideas to improve communications between the School Committee and the public. "I'd like to hold a state of the schools forum and get press releases out on actions," she said. "I'd also like to have some sort of information update every month. The Communication Plan needs the participation of the public, however, to be effective."

Chair Mary Vogel also accepted two gifts on behalf of the School Committee. One was a gift of $3,350 from the Longmeadow High School Class of 1957 to form a scholarship for students.

The second gift was a $4,200 donation from the Rotary Club toward the renovation of the high school auditorium. "I'd like to say a special thank you to my fellow Rotary Club members for their hard work," Hart said.

Vogel also reminded the committee that there would be a state aid information session on April 12 with state senator Gale Candaras and representative Mary Rogeness.

The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for April 9 at 7 p.m. in the School Committee Room.