|McCann School Budget Reflects Hikes in Fixed Costs, Health Insurance|
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff|
03:59AM / Monday, February 27, 2017
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McCann Technical School budget for fiscal 2018 is up 2.7 percent over this year, largely reflecting increasing fixed costs and level state funding.
The school's budget is up about $250,000, from $9.09 million to $9,340,159, and includes $88,000 in cuts. Some $3.7 million of the spending plan will be covered by assessments to its nine districts for operations, transportation and capital projects. The total assessments are up less than one percent.
"The problem we run into when you look at the budget itself, the state Chapter 70 money is pretty much level, the numbers that are municipal assessments ... are fairly level for all actual purposes for the past three or four years," said School Committee member Daniel Maloney Jr. "So while we're doing our best to control costs, there are fixed costs that you can't change."
The main drivers is the teacher salary schedule that even with minimal raises goes up as teachers move up or across the step schedule.
"Health insurance is No. 2, it's not stopped at all ... it just keeps chewing up money year after year," he said, along with commitments made to retirees for health insurance coverage made years ago.
"All those things added up come out to almost $300,000," Maloney said. "That's with us doing not a single thing different than last year. But just opening the door, turning the key in that lock on July 1, we know it's going to cost us $300,000 more to operation the school."
Superintendent James Brosnan was asked to find reductions to the preliminary budget, coming back with $88,000 in cuts. Maloney said there are few places to deduct from as most shops are down to two instructors and academics is tight. This year, the
Chapter 70 school funding has changed little, increasing less than $60,000 over five cycles; tuition is down about the $90,000 over this year. Municipal assessments have risen around $700,000 over the same period though total enrollment is down slightly.
McCann anticipates an enrollment of 501 students. This year and next year are down about 20 students after about five years of steady enrollment.
Maloney it's understood that municipal budgets are being put under strain and many are closing in on their levy limits.
"We're trying to find that balancing point where we do the job that they ask us to do to educate our students at McCann so they've got a skill when they leave here," he said, adding "We've got to be somewhat understanding there's not an endless pot we're working from."
Beginning this summer, the vocational school district will begin a review of its revenue and spending to find cost savings and efficiencies ahead of fiscal 2019.
Adams will pay the highest total assessment next year, just over $1 million, with 144 students, or about 32 percent of the student body. North Adams is next at $932,000; the two communities make up almost two-thirds of the enrollment.
Brosnan noted that Adams is up about 14 students but called recent comments describing Adams-Cheshire Regional students attending McCann as "leaving for other schools" as "absolutely erroneous."
"We are glad to accommodate them because we are their high school," he said of the regional vocational school.
Next year's budget includes $38,120 to begin the renovations of the school's outdated bathroom facilities. Brosnan said work will start on the B Wing boys and girls bathrooms this summer and next year move toward the cafeteria.
That will in part be offset by the payoff this year of the gym rehabilitation; about $100,000 in debt is falling off the budget. However, Brosnan cautioned that the school's "new roof" will be 20 years old in September. He reminded the School Committee that McCann has made a point of not deferring maintenance as other schools have done.
The School Committee unanimously approved the fiscal 2018 spending plan.
McCann is experiencing some of the same issues as other schools as the population continues to decline.
"If we're going to have people stay in this community, the best chance is to have skills so that they can find an employable job in Berkshire County, otherwise they're going to go somewhere else, and if they go somewhere else, they don't raise their families here, their children aren't born here, those children don't go into the school system and we end up with the same cycle over again."
McCann Technical School Budget FY2018 by iBerkshires.com on Scribd