West Springfield mayor vetoed over $1 million in budget cuts

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The West Springfield mayor has vetoed budget cuts made by the town council last week, citing concerns about the potential impact on the school department.

The plan would cut more than $1 million dollars from the school department, including more than $586-thousand dollars worth of existing educator positions, plus $250,000 dollars worth of proposed new positions. This comes as many other school districts across the state are facing similar cuts, now that the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief pandemic-era funding has come to an end.  

Councilors who voted no say it’s important to not sacrifice the five interventionists positions for a budget cut, as they support students who may have fallen behind due to the challenges of COVID-19 or other learning difficulties.

Councilor At-Large, Brian Griffin told 22News, “With 50% of our students not meeting the expectations in math or reading or both, now is not the time to do that.”

Councilor At-Large – President, Sean Powers agrees. “A few years removed from COVID and in my opinion we are starting to see that proof in our test results as our students progress. While I think teachers are doing a great job working to fill any gaps in student learning that still persist, I believe removing the support of the interventionists would not be right. ”

Powers goes on to say;

“Grade level teachers focus primarily on grade level content, and interventionists are needed to support students who are falling below, whether they are below as a result of COVID, a learning disability, or any other reason. To cut interventionist positions from the specific grades which these children are now entering is wrong in my opinion. As someone who truly and deeply cares about the education that our children are receiving, I agree with the Mayor and the Superintendent and applaud them for the job that they’re doing in trying to fill in the gaps in those areas or keep the currently employed teachers in these positions to be successful in doing so.”

While some councilors agree with the veto, other’s do not.

Councilor At-Large, Daniel O’Brien said the budget cut is needed. “It will bring their budget down to about 6% increase, but they’ll say I’m cutting your budget, but I told them I’m not cutting your budget, I’m cutting the yearly increase to your budget”

Superintendent of West Springfield Public Schools, Stefania Raschilla gave 22News her response to the veto, stating,

“The Mayor has been actively listening to the parents, students, and staff of the West Springfield Public School District.  Having engaged in many meetings and conversations with members of the School Committee and the school community, the Mayor has gained a firm understanding of the needs of the district.  For this we are abundantly grateful.  If the veto goes through, the district will be able retain current staff playing pivotal roles and provide the support services that our students need to achieve academic success.”

The council will decide whether to override this veto June 17th. If the veto goes through, the district can keep its current staff.

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Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on X @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.

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