Friday, November 26, 1999
Carlisle School Committee begins drafting next year's budget
The Carlisle School statement about the budget process begins with the philosophy that the school will maintain level services. Any increases in a level service budget are a result of contractual obligations, mandated services and increased enrollment. On November 16, the school committee began to wrestle with what a level service budget for the next fiscal year ('01) might require and what programs administrators would like to fund beyond that budget.
The agreement between the CSC and the Carlisle Teachers' Association includes a 3 percent salary increase, "step" increases for additional professional degrees, and additional funds for locally assessed incentive and grant programs, and the continuation of all present faculty and staff positions with an addition of kindergarten classroom and lunchtime/playground aides. There may be an increase in substitute teacher salaries, as it is very difficult to find available substitute teachers. Additional curricular materials and furniture for the fifth section of grades 1 and 5 and the increased costs of materials and books will also have to be considered.
The school-based mandated special education and student services staff will increase by 4.2 percent. With the renewal of the federal statute, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), comes the mandate to consider assistive technology needs for all students with disabilities. Carlisle anticipates two to three additional placements.
This spring, it will be necessary to request bids for a new bus contract. The school is anticipating an increase because of the "current employment environment." Apparently, there are three bus companies in the area but Bedford Charter is the only one who bid on the contract the last time around.
All together, considering mandated and contractual obligations, a level budget increase will be 10.77 percent. The systems thinking program is currently funded by grants and the Carlisle Education Foundation and the Carlisle School Association provide funds for the foreign language textbooks and campus network.
Business manager Eileen Riley elaborated on several additional expense areas in the budget. When the anticipated campus-wide computer network is functioning, a part-time technology/network technician will be necessary to maintain the complex system of Internet access, e-mail and aging classroom computers. Right now, the school library has the only system capable of producing the grades. If there were other computers on campus, it would be a great relief for teachers and foster communication among them.
Both CSC member Paul Morrison and chair David Dockterman commented on the need to maintain confidentiality and provide security when this network is expanded into the classrooms.
There are also other curriculum plans being discussed which, if implemented, would have associated costs. These include expansion of the kindergarten program to half-year full-day, incorporating keyboard classes at the appropriate grade level, offering a strings instructional program in music, expanding the choral music/drama program and expanding the foreign language program into lower grades.
Additional play space
Increased enrollment has resulted in the need for additional safe and supervised play space for the children during the school hours. This could take the form of clearing more space near the "Carlisle Castle." Fencing and bark mulch, needed for safety reasons, will add to the costs. The administration is exploring the possibility of parking the buses elsewhere and adding a basketball hoop in the upper parking lot. The school athletic program is also consistently running in the red. The only alternative is to raise the user fees, which now are the highest in the state. Member Suzanne Whitney Smith commented that the need for more play area is enrollment-driven. The children come from two-acre lots and then are crammed into an inner city play space.
The long-term capital plans should also include funds for replacement and maintenance of old computers, for ongoing ADA compliance modifications in the school buildings, and the replacement of school furniture and lockers as needed.
The school wants to plan for the ongoing study of increasing enrollment and building demands. The school would like to entertain the thought of purchasing an emergency power generator. The CSC will continue to prioritize school needs in relation to the budget.
Superintendent of buildings and grounds David Flannery has conducted an internal audit for Y2K compliance of the school's operations and maintenance systems and equipment. Included in the report were statements from three major utility services and he is awaiting certifications from the voice mail computer manufacturer, satellite service provider, Cablevision and Lexington Alarm. He assumes that there will be no disruption and the school will be ready for operation on January 3, 2000. If there are problems, there will still be time to solve them or to take other measures, such as cancelling school. The fire whistle will work if there is no radio or T.V.
Riley has been assured that the town offices are Y2K compliant. That is good news for the school payroll system.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito