By Melissa Fales
Committee discusses additional budget expenses
At the Oct. 26 meeting of the Ware School Committee, Andy Paquette of the Management Solution advised the committee about two items that will need to be incorporated into the district’s budget.
The first is a potential increase in special education tuition. Paquette said the amount of the increase has yet to be determined by the state, but he is anticipating an amount between $102,000 and $150,000.
The second is a $20,000 tuition charge for four youths who live in Ware but are School Choice students of the Virtual Academy at Greenfield, an online school operated by the Greenfield School District.
Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach noted that three of the four virtual high school students have never attended a Ware Public School and she regretted that the district didn’t have the opportunity to show those students what it could offer them.
Beach added that Ware is still in the process of pursuing its own virtual school options, including possible collaborations with other school districts.
Committee member Aaron Sawabi asked if there were any plans on how to fund these increases. Paquette said the $20,000 will likely come out of the district’s Chapter 70 money. He suggested that the district continue to be “judicious” with its spending and said the district will have to wait to see if the state will offer any circuit breaker financial relief to help address a potential deficit.
Committee approves two articles for November STM warrant
Paquette submitted two proposed warrant articles for the upcoming Special Town Meeting scheduled for Nov. 29.
The first one asks the town to reimburse the district the $34,600 the town received in insurance money for damage that occurred to the Ware Middle School roof and gutters last winter. That amount represents the amount the town has been reimbursed by the insurance company, minus the deductible.
The second article asks the town to raise and appropriate or transfer $63,216 to pay for two additional vans needed for in-district special education transportation. Paquette said the need for more vans is due to additional students requiring special education transportation. The committee unanimously approved presenting the articles to the town for inclusion on the warrant.
District looking into web-controlled energy system
Paquette said the district is in talks with a company regarding the possibility of having a web-controlled energy system installed that would save the district money in energy costs. “We’re in a process to use Ware as a test case,” he said. Paquette said the company would first need to do an assessment to see where on campus the controls could be installed and how much the district might save.
Beach said the district is looking into a lot of its current expenses. One aspect they are reviewing is whether or not it is cost-effective to open the school on weekends at all when energy and heating costs are factored in. Beach also noted that it costs $200 to light the football field for night games. Committee Chair Christopher Desjardins said that the revenue from the admission fees to the games might help cover the district’s operating costs. He suggested determining whether more spectators come to afternoon games or evening games and then adjusting the schedule accordingly. “It might be more beneficial to have the games at night,” Desjardins said.
WJSHS to pursue future JROTC program
Beach said the district is considering offering a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program at Ware Junior Senior High School next year or the year after. While there are different branches of JROTC programs available, Beach said the district is leaning towards offering an Army program due to the proximity of the National Guard base on West Street.
Payment must accompany use of facility form
Beach announced that the district will no longer accept use of facility forms unless the form is accompanied by the use of facility fee. Beach said there have been too many instances where the forms were turned in without payment, meaning staff has to spend time tracking the fee down.