WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The coronavirus pandemic has kept students physically out of schools across the state and has left many local districts scrambling with significantly lower proposed budgets due to the current economic downturn.

Local school districts - like here in Westfield - are waiting to hear from the Commonwealth of Mass. to see what local aid they will get, but many already know teacher jobs are in jeopardy.

"It’s been a very difficult year obviously because of COVID-19 no one could’ve predicted the pandemic, but it impacted our economy and shut down everything," said Westfield Mayor Don Humason Jr.

COVID-19 will now turn a normal school day for staff and students across the state upside down and now will possibly affecting the budget for the next academic year in many school districts.

"We were originally presented what we thought was an $8 million hole in the city budget...so we were looking at $4 million from the school department and $4 million from the city side," Humason explained.

Humason told Western Mass News - over the phone - that they were fortunate to find a way to shrink a proposed $4 million cut to schools.

"It’s closer to 1.5 to $2 million out of the school budget, [but] luckily because we were able to use the free cash to supplement it and because of using some of the CARES [Act] money to supplement the school budget, cuts were not as deep," Humason explained.

This new proposal was passed by the school committee on Wednesday; the proposed budget still includes some layoffs but saves many positions focusing on student impact.

"Classroom teachers, music, and art teachers...they looked at the folks that had the biggest impact on students directly and they tried to go from there and restore it from original position cuts

Humason also said the city is still waiting to hear from the commonwealth to see the amount of local aid they will receive, which could help their financial situation.

"It's a real challenge for mayors, selectmen, and city council members across the state, but we're hopeful that the news will come out of Boston soon and it'll be good," Humason explained.

The proposed budget will be presented to the Westfield City Council at a meeting tomorrow and a final vote is expected on June 29.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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