The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 14, 2000


New teachers' mentoring and tight budget guideline top CSC agenda

The first Carlisle School Committee meeting of the millennium, January 4, 2000, covered an update on a proposed mentor teacher program, the fiscal year 2001 budget proposal for the Carlisle Finance Committee, and various announcements about activities at the school and of committee members. The long-term capital improvements plan as discussed at the December 21 school committee meeting was accepted unanimously

Mentoring program for new teachers

The Carlisle Public School hopes to have a mentoring program for new teachers in place for the next school year, according to Principal Andy Goyer. He feels the Carlisle School is unique and wants to keep it that way by providing a program to help new teachers become acclimated to the school's curriculum and philosophy.

Describing the program, Goyer said the goal is to pair veteran members of the faculty with teachers new to the school. The veteran teachers are able to share skills, school information and wisdom while the new teachers are able to learn about curriculum, teaching strategies, school culture, roles and responsibilities. A handbook will be completed in May. Faculty members to serve as the mentors will be chosen in June so the program can be implemented at the beginning of the new school year. Stamell said, "Even experienced teachers get a lot out of teaching others. Also, when new teachers are integrated as part of a team, they feel less isolated."

During the summer, a Carlisle contingent, including teachers Steve Bober, Paula Ewers, Susan Fitzgerald, Ann James, Jennifer Putnam, Sara Bysshe, Gene Stamell and Goyer attended a workshop on mentoring programs presented by the Beginning Teacher Center of Teachers and Simmons College. At a workshop funded by the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Carlisle teachers were able to observe handbooks and outlines of programs from the other six or seven participating schools. Showing resourcefulness, the Carlisle teachers were able to barter one of Gene Stamell's songs for a copy of another school's handbook.

Preparations for budget hearing

With an ever watchful eye on line items and the budget, business manager Eileen Riley said the school is 43 percent through the fiscal year and 32.50 percent through the school year. She feels comfortable with current expenditures even though several of the children new to the school have required special services. Although the children have been able to receive services on the Carlisle campus, the school is penalized because grant money is not immediately available until applications for funds are completed at the state level.

For next year's budget, Riley went on to say that the difference between the 6-percent budget as requested by the finance committee and the level service budget of 10.48 percent is large. She prepared a per pupil expenditure for the town of Carlisle and found that the town is near the middle, compared to neighboring communities. Carlisle spends $6,859 per pupil in its K-8 program. Boxborough spends the least at $4,090, Acton $5,600, Sudbury $6,036, Wayland $6,702, Westwood $7,304, Bedford $7,530, Wellesley $7,868, Lexington $7,940, and Weston $8,469.

Again, the CSC struggled with costs for programs mandated by the state, contracts agreed to by the teachers and bus company. The cost-of-living increases are estimated at 2.3 percent and costs for additional enrollment at 4.7 percent.

This year, the FY00 realigned budget for the school comes to a total of $5,771,419. Of this amount, $2,983,273 covered salaries and stipends for teachers, teaching aides, substitute teachers and course reimbursement for professional development; $49,444 was for textbooks, technology and media supplies; $1,610,126 was budgeted for the special education services. Of that total, $158,309 was necessary for outside placements, $67,004 for professional salaries, $88,518 for counselor salaries, and $739,474 for special education teaching salaries. All salary contracts include an increase of 3 percent.

The school's proposed FY01 level service budget, up 10.48 percent, comes to a total of $6,376,508, an increase of $605,088 over FY00. Of that amount, $3,292,278 is budgeted to cover teacher and aide salaries and professional development and $62,828 covers textbooks and instructional supplies. In the special education area $1,827,552 is budgeted to cover professional and counselor salaries and outside placements ($245,000). Legal costs have increased for both the administration and special education services.

The bus contract for FY00 was $294,308. However, the bus contract for next year will be going out for bid so a 7-percent increase of $314,910 is included in the proposed budget.

Impact of 6-percent budget

The 6-percent budget guideline requested by the finance committee represents a $346,285 increase over the FY00 realigned budget. Of that increase, $231,919 is already mandated. There is nothing for the increase in the cost of living and increased enrollment in special education and school population.

The 6-percent guideline combined with the 3-percent contracted salary increases would translate into cutting four to five teaching staff members. There would definitely be an increase in class size and reduction and/or elimination of programs, such as the recently introduced Spanish and French language combination. As for the noncontractual salary positions, funding for three instructional aides might be eliminated. Funding would also be reduced for substitutes and non-athletic stipends, such as the math league, student council and yearbook.

In the special education department, most services are mandated by law, such as the transportation costs. With the 3- percent increase in the non-contractual salaries, there would have to be a reduction in funding for custodians. The part-time custodian in the Corey Building would not be available for evening activities such as scouts and youth basketball.

There would also be other consequences of the 6-percent guideline, according to member Paul Morrison. The reduction in staff would increase the town's unemployment liability. The reduction in services and increase in class sizes would mean additional requests for special education services. Then, legal services would also be higher. He said that, maybe, the school would "get to the point where one teacher per grade would have to be taken."

The school committee discussed the costs of bus transportation. Maybe the families could pay a fee for bus service or more students could walk. Legally, the town does not have to provide service for students living within a mile and a half from the school complex. Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson commented that without sidewalks in town, walking to school can be dangerous.

With the projected enrollment increases of 4.7 percent, the 3-percent contractual increase and the cost-of-living increase, four to five teachers might have to be cut.

The committee agreed to present the level service budget and have a copy of the possible scenario with the 6-percent budget, as requested by the finance committee. Both Riley and committee chair David Dockterman expressed how grateful they had been in the past to have community members and supporters at the finance committee hearings. Dockterman said, "Town attendance at the hearings makes the finance committee aware that the community values its school system."

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito