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School Committee could restore four teaching positions

Date: 7/23/2015

WILBRAHAM – At least four full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching positions could be restored within the district’s fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget due to increases in Chapter 70 and regional transportation funds.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Beth Regulbuto informed the School Committee at its July 14 meeting that the district would gain additional funding for $16,000 in Chapter 70 money and be reimbursed an additional $250,000 in regional transportation funding.  

The state is supposed to fully reimburse the district each year for regional transportation but has not done so for the past several years.

Regulbuto said the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District’s (HWRSD) regional transportation reimbursement rate was 59 percent and that number now jumped to almost 73 percent.

Reminder Publications reported in May that the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District faced a $1 million budget shortfall and the district planned to cut 12 FTE teaching positions.

Regulbuto later told Reminder Publications seven FTE teaching positions were cut from the budget, three of which were enrollment-related reductions of staff.

She added, “the news is very good,” and the additional funds could also be used to restore the district’s Excess and Deficiency funds, which were mostly used to help balance the FY16 budget.

Ultimately, the decision on how to utilize the additional revenue will rest with the School Committee, Regulbuto said. A recommendation would be made to the committee based on an assessment from the Budget Subcommittee.

During the meeting, Regulbuto also presented the district’s plan to establish a transportation revolving account, which would allow the district to save money for regional transportation if there is a lack of funding at the state level.

“We can place it into this revolving account and it has to be used within a fiscal year, but it doesn’t have to wait and go through the process of being certified,” she added.

Newly appointed School Committee Chair Peter Salerno, who beat out School Committee member Michael Mazzuca for the chairman position by a vote of 4 to 3 earlier in the meeting, described the plan as “a good business practice.”

In other business, the district plans to have a final curriculum director candidate come before the School Committee at its Aug. 25 meeting to fill a vacancy in the position.

Former HWRSD Curriculum Director Timothy Connor left the district on July 17 to begin work in a similar position in West Springfield on July 20.

Superintendent of Schools M. Martin O’Shea said applications were due back to the district July 7.

“We hope to conduct the first round of interviews on [July] 29,” he added. “We would bring finalists to the district on Aug. 17 or 18.”