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School Committee cuts budget by $200K

By Natasha Clark

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN Due to the Proposition 2 1/2 override failure in Hampden, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee announced last week that it was forced to lower its budget by $200,000.

The budget was amended to $33,791,421.

School Committee Chair Scott Chapman said that the prior budget had no new programs and that these cuts "directly affect our students."

"We tried very hard to maintain fiscal prudence," said Vice-Chair Peter Salerno, adding that the School Committee and their decisions are "criticized by unknown people with unknown facts for well known reasons."

The School Committee said they have also been facing criticism for their vote to build a new high school.

A few weeks ago the board received a letter from the Concerned Citizens of Wilbraham. On May 17, David Robin, of the organization, read the letter at that evenings School Committee meeting during public comment.

Robin asked that the board include the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) in their decision making process.

At last week's meeting, Salerno read a letter written by NEASC Director of the Commission on Public Secondary Schools Pamela Gray-Bennett, in which she stated that that is not the function of NEASC.

According to their mission statement, "The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a self-regulatory membership organization, serves the public and educational community by developing and applying standards assessing the educational effectiveness of elementary, secondary, and collegiate educational institutions."

Gray added that while NEASC may identify any problems with a school, "it is up to the School Committee and community to determine how to address them."

At their June 28 meeting, the Committee will announce the members of the new Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS) Building Committee.

The Committee will be comprised of 18-20 people some who were also on the MRHS Feasibility Study Committee.


In other School Committee news:

Due to the budget issues currently facing Hampden and the uncertainty of the staffing of the highway department, the Committee voted to increase the window of school delay time from 90 minutes per policy to 120 minutes, if necessary.