CCHS budget to include 5. 63% hike for Carlisle

Members of the Regional School Committee unanimously voted to approve a 5. 63% increase in Carlisle’s share of the regional district’s operating budget for FY20. The total operating budget is $29 million, an increase of $1,200,378 over FY19. 

The new budget is lower than what had been considered in previous meetings because the Concord Finance Committee issued a guideline that limited Concord’s increase to 4. 4%. Carlisle’s assessment increase is higher than Concord’s because of a slight enrollment shift from 24. 51% in FY19 to 24. 75%. Director of Finance & Operations Jared Stanton explained that, in order to meet the FinCom guideline, they reduced the contribution to OPEB, a fund for retiree benefits, by $221,924. 

The approved budget includes $350,000 in revenue from the Excess and Deficiency (E&D) reserve fund. In past meetings, the RSC considered increasing the income from E&D to reduce the upward pressure on the budget, but decided to keep it at $350,000 in an effort to protect the district’s bond rating. This fall, Moody’s Investor Services notified the administration that it maintained the Aaa bond rating but added a negative outlook, in part because of the district’s use of reserve funds as income. Stanton reported that, if the E&D revenue is set to $350,000 and everything else stays the same, the E&D account will be certified at 3. 8% of the operating budget for FY19. In FY18  it was about 2. 8%. The reserve fund is capped at 5% of the budget. Hunter said, “The real exciting part is to see E&D revenue go from $689,000 this year [FY19] to $350,000. [It] is an enormous step forward. I think, over the the next year or two, we can get that down to the big 0 number that really puts us in a healthy place.”

The approved budget includes $348,441 to purchase approximately 375 computers for new students and faculty. Last year the district leased the computers, but due to interest payments, the leasing approach costs more in the long run. Hunter voiced her support of purchasing rather than leasing computers saying it is a more sustainable approach over the long term. ∆