$36M Quabbin budget `alarming'; Barre board says 5-town district faces wake-up call.


Byline: James F. Russell

BARRE - Selectmen are alarmed about the proposed Quabbin Regional School District budget, with one board member saying it is time for all five district towns to "wake up."

At yesterday's board meeting, Selectman Robert E. DiGirolamo Jr. pointed out that "the school is proposing three new positions" while not restoring a bus to the town of New Braintree.

"Hopefully, the towns will wake up; I know Oakham and New Braintree have been trying the past several years to no avail," Mr. DiGirolamo said.

In a controversial decision in August, shortly before the start of the school year, the administration notified New Braintree parents and officials that the school was eliminating one of the two buses that transported children to the elementary school.

At the school committee's budget hearing to present the fiscal 2008 spending plan last week, the administration proposed a $36.16 million budget that includes money for three new staff positions beginning July 1: $110,000 to hire a curriculum director; $60,000 for an assistant principal who would be shared by Barre and Hardwick elementary schools; and $50,000 to hire an adjustment counselor.

Officials said no money was in the budget to restore the New Braintree bus.

Selectman Richard P. Jankauskas said at last night's meeting that he was dismayed that $215,726 was voted from the town's "free cash" reserve during the June annual town meeting to underwrite Barre's fiscal 2007 assessment of $3,769,834 to the Quabbin district. The vote was 140-79 in support of the measure.

"Is there any way we can protect that free cash?" Mr. Jankauskas asked at last night's selectmen's meeting. "What is to stop them from taking all our money?"

Mr. Jankauskas said he sat in the audience during the June 12 town meeting - instead of with...

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