Friday, January 29, 1999
School and FinCom close on level service request; override a possibility
Details of the Carlisle School budget proposals for FY00 were reviewed by the finance committee at their January 20 meeting. The "level service" school budget, with an increase of 11.49 percent, is only slightly above the guideline of 10.4 percent issued by the finance committee. The FinCom guideline for the FY00 Carlisle School budget is $5,650,910, an increase of $533,961 or 10.4 percent over FY99. However, school officials wanted the FinCom to consider additional needs.
Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson led with her most ambitious FY00 budget proposal, which goes beyond level service to provide for additional needs. These were defined as "items that we believe to be essential to providing quality education and maintaining parity with Concord." That stated, she went straight to the bottom line. "The proposed budget for the Carlisle Public Schools for FY00 is $5,824,920 which represents a 13.84 percent increase over the FY99 appropriation for the K-8 school system."
Fox-Melanson emphasized that Carlisle values quality education and has demonstrated support for the school throughout the years. "In turn, the residents of Carlisle have been well served," she stated. She pointed to recent Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Test results where the Carlisle system ranked first in the eighth-grade and second in grade four. "Our recently completed building expansion reflects our burgeoning population of families who are drawn to Carlisle by its combination of rural beauty, suburban location, and excellent educational reputation," concluded Fox-Melanson. "Yet, good schools cost money. And while money alone cannot achieve excellence, without adequate funding, excellence is not sustainable."
Both verbally and in a written statement, Fox-Melanson stated that with the 11.49 percent increase, the school could maintain current programs, faculty and class size while addressing mandated increases in contractual obligations and special education, and the costs associated with increased enrollment. "This impacts several areas, including the addition of a bus as well as additional aides, custodial and administrative personnel," she continued. "The budget also restores items that are currently funded by non-renewable grants: the half-time elementary guidance position, the half-year full-day kindergarten program, and an L.P.N [licensed professional nurse]." In addition this level service budget includes a new assistant principal.
School business manager Eileen Riley lead FinCom members line by line through the budget. Their interest focused on the $5,704,898 level service budget and assumptions made to arrive at the number. Riley explained that the figure represents a $587,948 or 11.49 percent increase over FY99 and assumes 5 percent enrollment growth and a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase. "It maintains level services, meets contractual obligations, funds mandated services, and covers items currently funded by non-renewable grants," she stated.
School committee chair David Dockterman then went on to justify the additional $120,000 requested in the proposed FY00 budget for supplemental needs. Educational equipment, including the replacement of several musical instruments, accounted for $3,000, $19,300 each for restoration of the seventh-grade play and teaching a foreign language at lower levels and $25,000 for campus maintenance and improvements completed the $66,500 additional system needs portion. The remaining $53,500 covers unmet needs and user fees, such as field trips ($10K), athletic program subsidy ($20K), facility use subsidy ($17K), eighth-grade graduation ($1.5K), and indoor air quality ($5K).
"What about grants?" asked a member of the audience. "Carlisle doesn't qualify for many grants," chuckled Fox-Melanson. "This should come as no surprise. It's usually related to the number of students in the free-lunch program." In response to a follow-up question of how many Carlisle students are in the free-lunch program, she thought a few seconds and replied, "approximately zero."
Parker summed up the situation for FinCom members by reviewing the numbers. The difference between the FinCom guideline and the proposed level service budget is only $54,000 or 1.06 percent. But the proposed full-service $5,824,920 number would require a $120,000 override. "You are doing very well, but we need to work some more," concluded Parker. "Thank you, the numbers are becoming increasingly better and better."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito