Monday, we began what will be a series of meetings to work through our collective bargaining process for the next three-year contract. Union leaders and School Committee members are meeting using a collaborative approach to reach an agreement on language and finances without using legal negotiators. This is a wonderful step forward and is an indication of the relationship that has been built and strengthened over the past two years.
Though Tuesday was a snow day for students and teachers, we administrators continued our work on the next budget draft. We continue to fine tune the details of each and every category as we prepare to give final written notification to faculty and staff by April 12. We realize there will be changes over the next three weeks and will wait as long as we can before making final reductions. On Tuesday evening, the group Yes, Northampton hosted a well attended meeting with Representative Kocot. The meeting drew a group of about 150 people including City Councilors, School Committee members, administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The news from the State level regarding future funding was grim, at least for the short term, and there was positive talk about organizing an override proposal for voters to voice support for our city and school budget later in the spring or early summer.
Wednesday, high school students demonstrated their disapproval of the proposed budget cuts with an assembly on Main Street next to City Hall. The students offered songs, band music, and speeches supporting the arts. The group was mature, professional, respectful, and generated very positive support for the arts and our schools. Well done Northampton High School students! Thank you for demonstrating the positive power of committed teenagers.
On Friday, I received the message from Mayor Narkewicz that our budget will increase by $450,000. This is great news for our schools and our administrative leadership team will meet on Tuesday morning to make collaborative decisions about how to allocate these new funds across the district.
Brian L. Salzer
Image courtesy of Leonardo Espinosa via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.