The Recorder – Pioneer outlines service level budget, seeks to assess impact of pandemic going forward

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Published: 06/03/2022 17:01:00

Modified: 06/03/2022 17:00:25

NORTHFIELD — Looking ahead to future economic impacts on its budget, the Pioneer Valley Regional School District introduced a service level budget Thursday with a 2.54 percent increase over the current year’s budget.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 is about $15.23 million — up from less than $14.85 million this year — as the district maintains student services while trying to figure out how to emerge from the pandemic. of COVID-19.

“We have a lot of work to do, but it wasn’t the year with all the changes. … That’s why it’s a service level budget,” said budget subcommittee chair Michele Giarusso. “The focus should be on the children and how we educate them.”

Acting Superintendent Patricia Kinsella said after Thursday’s meeting that the goal is to get through the upcoming school year while maintaining student services, with the intention of taking a closer look at the district’s finances the next day. next year.

“Our goal was to provide level services to understand the impact of the pandemic on the district,” Kinsella said. “We will look at the financial foundations we have.”

Of the four district towns, only Warwick’s valuation fell 1.47% to $820,374. Leyden’s valuation rose 7.12% to $858,295. While Leiden’s increase is ‘daunting’, Pioneer commercial director Judy Houle said there are so few students coming to the city that any sort of increase in the student population will have an impact substantial budget. Northfield’s valuation increased 1.72% to approximately $4.75 million and Bernardston’s valuation increased 2.71% to approximately $3.06 million. Houle said valuations as a whole rose 2.12% to $9.5 million.

Enrollment in the district rose to 573 students, two more than last year and the year before.

In terms of coronavirus relief funds, the district plans to spend Emergency Relief II and III money on elementary and secondary schools in the coming fiscal year, while retaining some of it for use. future. Much of the money will go towards a master study of all facilities in the district, the results of which will be used to guide maintenance and capital plans for each building. After fiscal year 2023, the district expects to retain approximately $344,076 heading into fiscal year 2024 and beyond.

Kinsella said these one-time funds are helpful to get through the immediate fiscal year, but the school district cannot rely on them in the future.

“For this exercise, we’re relying on one-time funds,” Kinsella said, adding that while helpful, it’s “not good from a financial standpoint.”

The school committee will formally vote on the budget at its next meeting on Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Valley Regional School Library. Any questions or comments can be given in person or by emailing [email protected]

District financial records can be viewed at bit.ly/3pEUrtr.

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.

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