CHESHIRE -- The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee approved a "bare bones" budget Monday night constituting nearly $1.1 million in reductions from its initial fiscal 2014 proposal.
Comprising $17,877,141 in total spending, the budget was the third proposed and most dramatic in its cuts, calling for nine position cuts by layoffs and attrition. It will now proceed to Adams and Cheshire for votes.
"It's certainly not an ideal budget, but it's one that reflects our belief that the taxpayers are in tough straits," Adams-Cheshire Regional School School Committee Chairman Paul Butler said after the affirmative vote.
In terms of assessments, the budget represents 12 and 3.4 percent increases for Adams and Cheshire, total amounts of $4,715,484 and $2,305,224 respectively.
The earlier proposals would have required proposition 2.5 overrides from each town, but ACRSD officials came away from many meetings with representatives from the towns concluding that this wasn't feasible.
"The towns couldn't support an override," said ACRSD Treasurer David Hinkell. "Both thought it wouldn't pass."
ACRSD Superintendent Kristen Gordon highlighted the difficult process in her opening remarks to Monday's meeting.
"We need some longer term fixes rather than just cutting, cutting, cutting," Gordon said. "... We know we can't keep doing this and need to look for ways out of this hole."
She said the district has new marketing techniques in the works and plans to make state officials aware of some of the more frustrating budget issues it faces: A low 55-percent state reimbursement rate for the district's transportation expenditures, a figure that should be 100, officials say, and increasingly heavy reimbursements it is required to pay Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, in accordance with state charter laws.
In that direction, a secondary vote taken Monday saw officials approve the creation of revolving accounts for certain revenue items that will be charter school exempt.
The district is also beginning to home in on retaining and attracting new students, Gordon added.
"We are recruiting kids to come to Hoosac and stay at Hoosac," Gordon said.
And on the positive side, Gordon said staff has rallied to close some gaps in the proposal.
"The teachers knew that this was a rough budget, and they stepped up to the plate," Gordon said. "We feel like we can still put together some really awesome programs."
However, much will ride on fiscal 2015's budget, Gordon said, as the needs will be many.
The district will still be short a curriculum director position for the high school -- an item cut from this year's proposal -- literacy coaches, interventionists and special education teachers, and Hinkell indicated that its reserve accounts have been drawn down as far as possible.
To reach Phil Demers, email