Ludlow and Westfield parents show concern over potential school budget cuts

We took those concerns straight to Ludlow and Westfield school officials as preparations for the 2023 fiscal year budget are underway.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Several viewers reached out to our newsroom expressing their concerns over proposed budget cuts in Ludlow and Westfield public schools.

We took those concerns straight to Ludlow and Westfield school officials as preparations for the 2023 fiscal year budget are underway across many local school districts.

One concerned parent’s email said in part, quote:

“I am hoping you will look into the story about Ludlow Public Schools cutting all arts programs. In a town where our taxes are increased year after year, and no improvements are made, it is devastating to hear the cut of these programs in all schools.”

We reached out to Ludlow Public Schools to find out what the budget cuts might entail. Interim Superintendent Lisa Nemeth told us in a statement in part, quote:

“It is not true that we are cutting all art and music programs. With creative scheduling, we will be able to share teachers and offer band, music and art to all students… LPS administrators know the importance of the arts and have done the best we could with the budget we have.”

Many people in Westfield also expressed worries over budget cuts in their school district. The superintendent told us when creating the first proposal, they had $1.5 million in budget cuts, but luckily the new proposal is a third of that amount and they will not be making as many cuts as anticipated.

“We will not be closing the Westfield High School preschool program,” said Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski. “We are not looking to close our Fort Meadow Preschool Program this year, although it is something we have to look at, not because of the program, but because of the building which was built in 1916 and it has done it’s time.”

The elementary band will also remain in place, but current high inflation rates are impacting the district’s 2023 fiscal year budget.

“Where we’re seeing even this year’s budget affected by increased utility, gas and oil costs and heating our buildings, we are projecting a 25% increase in that utility bill for next year which is going to affect our budget,” Superintendent Czaporowski said.

The superintendent added that he hopes costs will go down, but the district cannot count on that as they build a budget based on the information they have currently.

We also asked Superintendent Czaporowski what positions might be cut, and he told us:

“At this point, we’re looking at positions that would be eliminated through attrition and then we look at other positions. We do have, in some areas, a decline in enrollment, and in other areas, we have an increase in enrollment,” he said, “so now, we’re going back to the table, looking at the cuts that we suggested, and seeing what we can do to make those work.”

In Westfield, the next school committee meeting will be held Monday, April 25th to review the budget and May 2nd is the expected day for a vote.

As for Ludlow, the school committee will meet Tuesday to discuss budget cuts.