School Committee acts on tech plan, budget


WESTFIELD – The School Committee has slated an emergency meeting for this evening to deal with issues which must be acted upon before the expiration of the current fiscal year tomorrow.
The meeting agenda has two items, approval of a 2012-2015 technology plan and verification of the 2013 fiscal year budget.
Superintendent Suzanne Scallion said this morning that the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires districts to update technology plans.
“We have to make that deadline,” Scallion said of the technology plan. “We’re updating the last plan, but we still have a way to go, especially in the elementary school technology plan.”
The district had considered requesting Mayor Daniel M. Knapik, a strong proponent of technology, and the City Council to approve a bond of around $2 million to upgrade computer technology in the district’s elementary schools, but deferred that request because of the bonds approved for infrastructure improvements in a number of school buildings.
“Our technology needs are growing as we adopt the new (state required) core programs that are technology heavy,” Scallion said. “We can’t be continually playing catch up.”
“We are stalling some of our technology and programs needs” because of other financial imperatives, such as replacing roofs and boilers, Scallion said. “I want to be credible to the community. We made some painful cuts in the (2013) budget and left a lot of needs on the table because we couldn’t afford them, but at some point we will have to ask for funding to address those issues of building technology and curriculum needs.”
Scallion said that the budget she will present tonight to the School Committee is balanced based on the information of the current level of state and federal aid to the district.
“We still don’t know what level of funding will be available,” she said. “I’m hoping for an additional infusion of funds” when the state and federal budget process are completed.
The state Legislature is expected to approve the compromise budget, worked out earlier this week between the Senate and House, today which will provide a more exact number for state funding.
The federal budget is based on a different time cycle which begins on Oct. 1 of each year, so that funding will not be finalized until September, three months into the city’s budget cycle.

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