Pittsfield voters approve $9.25 million school district budget, one-year teachers contract
Concord Insider's Ben Conant and Keith Testa (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
Pittsfield teachers will get raises this year, and the town’s elementary school will get new siding and windows.
A $9.45 million budget and a one-year teachers contract were approved at the Pittsfield School District’s annual meeting last night.
Voters spent the most time debating whether to spend $615,000 to replace the elementary school’s siding and windows. The school district will raise $340,000 through taxes and draw $275,000 from capital reserve funds for the project.
School board member Michael Wolfe said the work was put off as long as possible, but the exterior of the school is falling apart.
“It’s deteriorated to the point where you can pull it off by hand at this point,” Wolfe said.
Fred Okrent said he believes the work is “absolutely necessary.” But he called the expenditure irresponsible.
“An amount this size can and should be bonded,” he said, and spread out over a number of years.
School board members said the work could be done for less money with a one-time, one-year expense. Wolfe said the school’s interior walls are in tact, but mold could develop if the siding is not replaced this year. That would lead to closing the school and holding classes in temporary classrooms, he said.
“When you said mold, the hairs sat up on my head,” Eileen Legg said, urging fellow voters to approve the project before they are forced to pay for emergency repairs.
Others said the project would have too large an impact on the tax rate.
“I really like the sounds of what you’re going to do with the outside (of the school),” Dan Schroth said. “But I could never vote for that much money in one year, I don’t think.”
Teachers will receive raises between 2.2 percent and 3 percent under the one-year contract approved last night. It will cost $42,900.
School board Chairman Clayton Wood said teachers have put in extra work during the school’s ongoing redesign effort. He called the contract a recognition of teachers’ cooperation and hard work.
Wood said teachers will pay more of their own health insurance costs, and raises are based in part on student performance.
“Most teachers unions don’t even want to talk about looking at students’ performance, and we’re way past that,” he said.
Paulette Wolfe said she has a daughter who attends the high school and has benefitted from the school redesign effort. It has included extra student help before and after school, for which the teachers do not receive extra pay.
“I think the extended school day is great,” she said. “I’m in favor of the teacher raise.”
Among the voters who spoke against the contract last night was a Pittsfield teacher who said she did not feel that teachers should receive a raise because other town employees will not receive raises this year.
Eric Nilsson, one of the town’s selectmen, asked voters to reject the contract and any other warrant article that would increase the budget.
“I know we’re in tough economic times right now, and if the school can’t come in level-budgeted, I’m going to vote ‘no’ on everything you want on increases,” Nilsson said.
The district’s operating budget passed with little debate last night, and is 2.5 percent less than last year’s budget. School board member Mary Paradise said budget reductions include eliminating one classroom teacher at the elementary school and one part-time music teacher at Pittsfield Middle High School.
This article has been updated to accurately reflect the opinion of the Pittsfield teacher who spoke against the contract.
(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)