LONGMEADOW — During the Feb. 13 School Committee meeting, Longmeadow Public School Committee Chair Nicole Choiniere announced that the committee’s vote on the fiscal year 2025 budget would be delayed to Feb. 27 in order to further solidify budget expectations.

During the meeting, Longmeadow residents voiced concerns about cuts to the FY25 budget. Specifically, residents stated that the middle school library services teacher and high school floating nurse, which are currently recommended to be eliminated, are vital supports for Longmeadow students.

This discussion mirrored the Feb. 6 public hearing, where multiple residents stepped forward to express concern over the reduction of the elementary and middle school music teacher. At this hearing, residents also gave support for the added special education supervisor. However, others criticized the addition of administrative positions or argued that the elementary and middle music teacher unnecessarily lightened the workload of other music teachers.

Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea later clarified during the Feb. 6 meeting that the special education supervisor will not be an administrative position. Similarly, he also stated that the reduction of Longmeadow High School’s floating nurse was a result of the School Department’s greater ease of locating substitute nurses.

In his Feb. 13 presentation on budget updates, O’Shea stated that the FY25 budget was “the most challenging budget that certainly I’ve experienced during my time here in Longmeadow.”

“This is not a budget that I can proudly say makes the critical investments that we need to make to provide the continuum of services, but it is a budget that … responds to some significant fiscal realities that are before us,” he said.

O’Shea explained that, with the delayed vote, the budget will now be presented to the Select Board on March 4. Furthermore, due to conflicts with balancing the town’s budget, the school budget now has $39,000 of “additional wiggle room” for FY25.

In the following discussion, he encouraged Longmeadow residents to reach out to state representatives about the reduced Chapter 70 aid increase to ask for a greater increase minimum than the current $30 per a student, which Longmeadow is expected to receive in FY25.

“In past years, the legislature has chosen to double that minimum increase or in some cases bump it up to say a flat amount of $100 per student minimum increase and so that would go a long way for us. If they were to double that from $30 to $60, it would mean an additional 80 something thousand dollars to us and that would cover some of the reductions that we’ve identified,” O’Shea stated.

School Committee members echoed O’Shea’s statement with Vice Chair Mary Keane recommending that residents share stories of how they will be personally impacted by the potential FY25 budget and member Jamie Hensch pushing residents to think of future budgets when emailing legislators about the Chapter 70 funds.

“Don’t think of this as just this year. Think about it as reaching out to your representative because this is going to be a continuous thing we need to fight for and $30 per pupil, it’s ridiculous,” Hensch said. “So, don’t think of it as like we’re not going to get through it this year because government is slow, inefficient and very unreceptive at times. Think about this as the long-term view.”

lmason@thereminder.com | + posts