Friday, June 18, 1999
"Growing Pains" sparks interest in forming new committee
Nancy Pierce, Beth Hambleton John Ballantine and Lenny Johnson presented the report, "Growing Pains," to the Carlisle School Committee on June 8. "Growing Pains" is a report written for the municipal land and finance committees to help them determine the impact of development, population growth and tax revenues for Carlisle residents.
Pierce pointed out that there is no group in town to monitor the data used in the study. Much of the information is confidential, but it should be stored and tallied on a regular basis. If someone can monitor the trends, there can be better preparations and more options.
Johnson summarized this complicated study of population projections and its impact on the present school population. Over the past five years, Carlisle's population has grown to approximately 4,640. Approximately one quarter of the population has lived in the town five years or less. During the past five years, 117 new homes were constructed, adding 99 new students to the Carlisle School. The resale of almost 300 existing homes added another 96 students. The new families tend to have young children, and over this same time period, Carlisle School enrollment has increased by almost 20 percent to 758 including 15 preschool students.
The report mentions a preliminary forecast suggesting that the K-8 enrollment may stabilize in five years, once the baby boom bulge has flowed through town. This phenomenon is described by member Paul Morrison as being like a "rat going through a python." The results of the study show a leveling off at about 800 students in the year 2005. However, the study points out the pace of growth is critical. Carlisle is a developing town, land is relatively cheap and the school system is good. All of these factors encourage development. However, the fluctuations of the economy may also influence these factors.
The increase in population from new homes is as important as the increase from turnover homes whose numbers, although double the number of new homes, have added a comparable number of children to the system. If the K-8 population rises above 900 students for a lengthy period of time, the town may be faced with the cost of constructing a new school. In summary, Hambleton said, the new homes do not generate what they cost to taxpayers.
"It is clear that we as a community need to understand this and to monitor the growth rate," commented Davida Fox-Melanson. Chair David Dockterman agreed and felt that the committee could take an active look at options available, short of building a new school. Fox-Melanson concluded that there should be a standing committee to continue monitoring the town's growth and she thanked those involved in the report for their enormous amout of work. The school committee indicated an interest in being part of a standing committee, particularly since the information will impact decisions the school must make in the future.
The full report is available at the Gleason Library.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito