By Melissa Fales
Fiscal year 2012 budget balanced, includes layoffs
At the March 16 meeting of the Ware School Committee, Budget Subcommittee chair Aaron Sawabi updated the committee on the status of the working draft of the district’s fiscal year 2012 budget. An earlier version of the budget faced a $400,000 deficit but Sawabi said the subcommittee has, at least temporarily, been able to balance it. “This is not final,” Sawabi warned. He went on to say the balanced budget does include the loss of approximately 15 positions, a combination of layoffs and attrition losses. Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach said the district has already informed some employees that their positions are in jeopardy.
Sawabi said the draft of the budget might be further affected by upcoming contract negotiations.
The community is encouraged to participate in the budget process by attending a public hearing on the working draft, set for April 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ware Junior Senior High School library. A second hearing will be held April 27. The budget will ultimately go before voters at the Annual Town meeting in May. Residents can also participate in the district’s budget survey available online at http://www.warepublicschools.com
Brindisi to retire at end of school year
According to Beach, Ware Junior Senior High School Principal Lucille Brindisi has announced that she will be retiring at the end of this school year.
Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) member Marilyn Niquette gave an update on recent PAC activity. “Our continued issue is attendance,” she said, adding that despite the fact that there are over 200 students in the district with an Individual Education Plan (IEP), the meetings rarely draw more than 4 or 5 parents. “It’s quite frustrating,” Niquette said.
In an effort to draw more parents into PAC involvement, Niquette suggested meeting in smaller groups based on age with separate meetings for parents of elementary school students, middle school students and junior/senior high school students. “Each group has different concerns,” she said.
Niquette also said PAC plans to send out forms for parents to fill out before the start of the school year to help teachers better understand students’ needs. The form would be an easy way for parents to share important information about their child with teachers, such as strengths and challenges.
Ware Public Schools/Holyoke Community College partnership to be honored
Niquette announced that Ware Public Schools will be honored for their partnership with Holyoke Community College on the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment (ICE) Program held at the college. The ICE program is a dual enrollment program for high school students ages 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities. Ware is one of six school districts participating in the program. The Holyoke/Chicopee Area Department of Developmental Services Advisory Board will honor the collaboration March 22 as part of their 9th Annual Community Celebration of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month.
Niquette said her granddaughter attends the ICE Program. “It’s changed her life,” said Niquette.
Email address created for money-saving ideas
At the suggestion of Chair Christopher Desjardins, the committee approved the creation of an email address to be used solely for the purpose of submitting ideas on how the district might save money or generate revenue. The idea is to make it easy for people to make suggestions and to have them all collected in one place. Beach said although not all submitted ideas will be plausible, all suggestions are appreciated. There is a link to the email address on the district’s website.
District tag sale and recycling event planned for May 7
Beach announced that the district’s popular annual tag sale and recycling event is scheduled for May 7. This year, residents may rent spaces at the tag sale for $20.