CHICOPEE — The School Board Finance Subcommittee and the District Administrative Team continued discussions around the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget at their April 11 meeting.
The two parties initially met on March 21 to understand the context of the school budget. Acting Superintendent Alvin Morton, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Accountability Matthew Francis, and Director of Budget and Finance John Miarecki continue to lead the discussion as school department representatives.
After discussing the annual changes and implementation of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) at their first meeting, the two parties focused on implementing the schools’ remaining balance. Morton detailed the department’s focus on new hires in the district, including an available vice-principal position at Belcher Elementary School.
Morton also discussed the district’s expansion of preschool (pre-k) programs to Belcher and Fairview Elementary Schools. While both schools recently opened the pre-k enrollment process, Morton shared that the district hires one teacher and two paraprofessionals for each new classroom.
“We’re trying to have a pattern across the district: one teacher and two paraprofessionals for every preschool classroom in the district,” said Morton, who said the new preschool programs are part of the Opportunity for Children Act plan. city students.
The acting superintendent noted that the district continues to even out staffing at schools, particularly between Dupont Middle School and Bellamy Middle School. “When we split between the colleges, we never moved any staff, so we try to even out the staff,” Morton said.
Morton shared that the district is integrating a new drawing teacher into the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at Chicopee Comprehensive High School. “The number of writers is growing, so we’re trying to prepare for this particular piece,” Morton said.
The school district also adds a director of instructional technology to the district administrative staff. “Sometimes a lot of our teaching materials are electronic and/or online. We want to make sure we stay ahead of the curve and be creative and innovative with the technologies that are coming to market now,” Morton said.
Morton and his team also discussed other miscellaneous budget items, such as the school district’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) labs and the monetary effects of school choice.