Friday, May 1, 1998

 

School committee clarifies override impact

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to clarify some confusion and ambiguity about the Carlisle School budget and the impact of the override on the schools.

First, to help the town reduce the override amount from $230,000 to $115,000, we made several significant cuts in the budget, reducing services for next year below those of this year. This includes the elimination of one-half of the elementary guidance counselor, elimination of the successful full-day kindergarten program, elimination of the MCET training budget (state-wide training), reduction of the lunch subsidy, and several reductions in supplies and texts.

Second, we have no slack in the current budget. We were forced to make several additions to the budget to meet state and federal mandates (special education supervisor), handle increased enrollment (additional specialist time) and meet external contractual commitments (a large increase in bus transportation costs, affecting many area towns).

Finally, if the override does not pass, we face additional significant and painful cuts in programs. $96,000 of the proposed override is allocated to the school budget. To meet that large a shortfall we would be forced to eliminate at least one or two teaching positions, as well as eliminate or reduce several smaller budget items. We do not yet know exactly which positions and programs we would eliminate or reduce, but candidates include: teaching specialist (art, music, physical education, and foreign language), classroom teacher (elimination of one section with subsequent increase in class size); classroom aides (critical in the primary grades); after-school programs (either elimination or introduction of user fees for math league, yearbook, homework club, etc.); lunch subsidy (increase in lunch prices).

We hope that the budget information and the quality of Carlisle's school programs make an overwhelming case for the importance of the passage of the override. It is critical that voters show their support at Town Meeting on May 4 and at the polls on May 11.

Burt Rubenstein

Nickles Lane

Chairman, Carlisle School Committee