Frontier School Committee votes $11.8M budget for fiscal year 2022

  • Students bundle up with the windows cracked for fresh air in a middle school science class at Frontier Regional School in January. The School Committee voted Tuesday to accept a $11.8 million budget for fiscal year 2022. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Monday, March 22, 2021

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Frontier Regional School District School Committee voted Tuesday to accept a total budget of $11.8 million for fiscal 2022, representing a 3% — or $341,000 — increase over the current year.

Business Administrator Shelley Poreda explained the district took a level-services approach with the budget.

“We looked at existing staffing, programming and services from fiscal year ’21 and we replicated those over to FY22 as our starting point,” she said.

Poreda said contractual pay increases for union staff amount to a 2% increase over the current fiscal year. Cost-of-living adjustments were also factored in for non-union personnel and general operating expenses.

Other drivers of the budget increase included the addition of a half-time foreign language teacher; a $30,000 increase for retirement assessment; and a $20,000 increase for miscellaneous expenses, including building repairs, hardware and software expenses, and stipend accounts.

“Our hardware and software account expenses have gone up, as well as building repair, and those are things primarily related to COVID that we anticipate we’re going to need to continue in future years,” Poreda said.

As for town assessments, Conway, Deerfield and Sunderland each had increases in their respective assessments, she noted, while Whately saw a decrease. Assessments are based on the state’s Chapter 70 formula, which takes enrollment into consideration.

“Overall, the district is looking at, from our four member towns, a decrease of 18 students compared to the previous year,” Poreda said, later addressing that this is possibly a result of families choosing to home-school and School Choice numbers declining because of the pandemic.

Superintendent Darius Modestow added that enrollment fluctuates each year based on students choosing to attend Franklin County Technical School.

Alan Singer, chair of the Conway Finance Committee, asked Poreda what the average cost per student is.

“With almost a $13 million total budget of all funding sources at 649 students, which includes our School Choices, it’s $19,692 per student,” Poreda said.

Responding to School Committee members’ questions as to how much the four member towns have weighed in on the budget, Modestow said that with the exception of Sunderland, the district had not had an opportunity to present the budget.