Southwick seeks to stay level-funded

SOUTHWICK – A preliminary school budget discussion was held last night, and the message again this year was level funding.
Members of the Southwick-Tolland Regional School District School Committee, Granville School Committee and the three towns’ select boards joined Superintendent John D. Barry, Business Manager Stephen Presnal and Southwick’s Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart for the roundtable discussion.
Barry said the meeting is held annually.  However, this year was a little bit different, now that Granville has joined the regional district.
Barry gave an overview of what to expect as budget talks progressed. He said there would be some consolidation as Granville becomes part of the district.
“We don’t need two food service directors, we need to coordinate transportation services – those kinds of things need to be worked out,” said Barry.
He said some positions would be cut.
“There will be one special education director and special education services will have some movement,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to duplicate services.”
Barry told the group the district enrollment is down.
“We have a responsibility to reflect that in staffing and costs,” said Barry.
Barry said the effects of the declining enrollment could be seen starting at the kindergarten level.
“At Woodland, there is pretty much a solid practice of having six kindergartens, which means six first grades, six second grades, etc.,” said Barry. “We will now have five kindergarten classes.”
Barry said another major change will be in the technology department, which he said is “way behind” other districts.
Barry said currently there are a part-time network administrator and a 1.5 position for technology support.
“Going forward, you are going to see a technology director and we’re hoping it will be offset by positions we are losing,” said Barry, adding that technology “is an area that has taken off in schools.”
Barry also addressed upcoming collective bargaining.
“The collective bargaining agreements in Granville and the regional district have to be melded,” he said.
Barry said normally the first real public discussion of the school budget takes place in February. Stinehart said that presentation will be Saturday, Feb. 1.

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