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School Committee discusses past and current budgets

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM Times are tough, financially speaking, but the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District closed fiscal year 2008 in the black.

The FY08 and FY09 budgets were discussed during the School Committee's meeting on Aug. 26.

"The budget was close," Director of Financial Services Beth Regulbuto told the committee. "We used new grant funds to help balance it out." A surplus of funds from the School Choice Program were transferred to areas needing extra help as well. At the end of the fiscal year, the school district kept $104,501 in revenue, which will be saved for future projects.

"I thought we were going to do better than this, but some things occurred that we didn't plan on," Superintendent Paul Gagliarducci said. "Financially, we're in pretty good shape. We're OK."

School Committee member Peter Salerno congratulated Gagliarducci and the rest of the administration on "a great job rebuilding the health of the system."

As discussion moved from the recently closed fiscal year to the current one, Gagliarducci noted the need for more maintenance workers in the district.

"They have an incredible amount of work to do in a short of amount of time," he said. "We're looking to hire one or two more [workers], who might be second shift in the winter, daytime shift in the summer. We'll see how that fits in the budget for next year. There's much more [work for maintenance employees to complete] than I think people think has to be done."

Gagliarducci also updated the School Committee on the Model School Pilot Program being put forward by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The program would use the design of an existing school to reduce both cost and time in the construction of a new high school.

The district should get notification if their program will be appropriate for them within a month, according to Gagliarducci.

"There is the caveat that this might not work," he added.

"We are very honored to be selected as a candidate for the model school objective," Salerno stated. "It's going to take some courageous decisions and a lot of support from a lot of people [to make it work]."

The next School Committee meeting will be on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at Minnechaug Regional High School.