Gill, Montague officials hear details of proposed FY25 school budget

Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School.

Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 02-09-2024 2:50 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The Gill-Montague Regional School District’s superintendent and director of business and operations walked town officials through the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget this week and explained the finer details of how those figures came to be.

Brian Beck and Joanne Blier led a presentation at Montague Town Hall on Wednesday in front of members of the Montague and Gill selectboards and finance committees.

The proposed budget sits at nearly $27.67 million, an increase of $191,420, or 0.7%, from the current fiscal year, according to the presentation. Blier explained this number has been adjusted and increased by $509,131 over the preliminary budget.

“After the release of Chapter 70, we were able to adjust some revenue lines as well as some expense lines to balance the budget,” Blier wrote in the presentation. “While we lost $702,755 from our state aid revenue line, we were able to revise some of the other revenue lines to minimize the need for expenditure reductions to just $509,131.”

Montague’s fiscal year 2025 assessment is roughly $12.14 million, an increase of $334,251, or 2.83%, over the current year. Gill’s assessment is nearly $1.77 million, an increase of $79,972, or 4.73%.

“This is a high year for Gill, but I hope that you’ll support the budget,” Blier told the selectboard and finance committee members.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Former International Paper Mill in Erving sees no offers as deadline looms
My Turn: Biden’s record and accomplishments are extremely positive
Montague Police Logs: Feb. 12 to Feb. 19, 2024
Class C finals: No. 1 Mahar shuts down No. 3 Granby to take home first Western Mass. title since 2012 (PHOTOS)
Psalm 23: The message of the shepherd
FAFSA fiasco: Financial aid form meltdown trips up students, colleges

The presentation explained a district’s foundation enrollment, the number of pupils a school district is financially responsible for on Oct. 1 of any given year, is designed to represent the total cost of providing an adequate education for all students. First, a district’s foundation budget is determined by multiplying the number of students at each grade level and demographic group by a set of education spending cost categories. Then, the local required contribution is calculated to determine the minimum amount each municipality can contribute to support education in their community based on a combination of their property value and income earned by residents.

Blier explained that enrollment dropped by nine students between fiscal years 2023 and 2024. The number of students who choice into Gill-Montague went from 95 to 100 in that timeframe, while the number that choiced out decreased by 29, from 183 to 154. Beck said the largest number of students coming from one particular town is probably Greenfield.

The presentation also mentioned that the school district’s 2021-2024 long-term goals are family engagement, student engagement, student growth and achievement, grade-appropriate instruction, and inclusion and equity.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in substantial disruptions to student learning for more than a year. To combat this, the district has committed to fostering a sense of belonging and partnership among students and families, continuously monitoring students’ understanding and ensuring strong grade-appropriate instruction.

The budget is slated for discussion at the Feb. 13 School Committee meeting, which will include a public hearing.

The proposed FY25 budget will ultimately need to be approved by Town Meting voters to take effect. Montague has an Annual Town Meeting set for May 4. Gill’s is scheduled for May 6.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.