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Northampton, MA: $1.2M deficit; fewer students/more IEPs

Mar 8, 2023, Northampton, MA, Daily Hampshire Gazette: Northampton school cuts eyed as $1.2M budget gap looms

The Northampton Public Schools are looking to increase classroom sizes, move around staff and make cuts to special education in order to make up for a $1.2 million deficit in its proposed school budget for next fiscal year.

The school’s proposed budget for fiscal 2024, which begins July 1, is $37.7 million, a 7.4% increase from the current fiscal year. The increase mostly comes from required cost-of-living adjustments made to staff salaries. City and state contributions to the school budget, however, would amount to $36.5 million, thus resulting in the deficit.

“If we don’t absorb the deficit ... it’s just going to grow,” said Bobbie Jones, business administrator for NPS, speaking remotely at a hybrid meeting on Monday to discuss the budget. “So at some point we need to make some cuts in order to keep up with the times, or get the state to fund us the way they should.”…

At Northampton High School, class sizes are expected to increase with a reduction of three full-time equivalent positions, although staff will be moved to other schools rather than face job cuts, according to Gwen Agna, vice chair of the School Committee.

The cuts in special education also come as the number of individual education plans (IEPs) in the district have ticked upward over the past five years, as has the percentage of students with disabilities and a higher number of special education students compared to statewide figures.

Enrollment rates overall for NPS have remained stagnant, with total enrollment across the school systems down about 7% since 2014. …

Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra, who chairs the Northampton School Committee, speaks about the school budget during a special meeting Monday at the City Council chambers. STAFF PHOTO/ALEXANDER MACDOUGAL


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