Amherst Schools facing nearly $400k gap

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AMHERST, Mass.  (WWLP) - Amherst school officials say their budget falls far short in the coming fiscal year.

Amherst announced a nearly $400,000 budget gap on Tuesday.  Ann Crossman Weston and her two daughters are all graduates of the Amherst public school system.  She says fewer students are staying in public schools.

“This is an educators’ town as you know.  We have an awful lot of people who want to send their children to private schools,” said Weston at Kelly’s Restaurant on Wednesday.

School officials say enrollment has dropped in the last decade.  10 years ago, over 2,000 students from Amherst, Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury were part of the K-12 system.  Wednesday, that number is just under 1600. Higher labor costs are also a problem.  Officials are estimating that up to a dozen positions could be cut.

Last March, Northampton schools announced a $1.2 million dollar budget gap.  Three months later, voters approved a property tax increase.  Longtime Amherst residents John Bak and his wife say they are on a fixed income and wouldn’t support an override.

“For us to, you know, just make ends meet.  I like the town, I like it, but I wish that they wouldn’t. And they are going up again this year,” said Bak.

More information on the impact of this budget gap will be presented during a regional school committee meeting on February 11th.

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