Friday, January 14, 2000
Public hearing on school expansion
The Carlisle School Committee took time at their regular meeting on January 4 to hold a public hearing on school expansion options. "We need to look at what to do in the future," said Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson. "The kindergarteners will be joining the school for lunch next week and the seating will be tight." She went on to say that during the last five years there has been an increase in the school population but numbers are hard to predict. She noted that the campus is now at 745 students and 800 is about the maximum. "Classes are now in five sections. If we build, what do we build? Do we build a second K-8 school?"
In a telephone interview, business manager Eileen Riley explained that although the recently expanded capacity of the school was expected to be 900 students, which is the maximum according to Department of Education guidelines, Riley feels the effective capacity of the current facility is 800-825. This is due to space demands for reasonable class size, extra subjects such as language, and special education resources.
Chair David Dockterman explained that two years ago there had been a brief discussion of joining forces with the school administration in Concord and Concord School Committee members indicated that they were not interested. Carlisle member Paul Morrison commented that he liked having the K-8 campus in Carlisle.
Third grade teacher Gene Stamell questioned whether there was room for further expansion on the present campus. Fox-Melanson answered that they have not been able to resolve the septic issues for the present campus. Due to pending litigation over the proposed school septic system on the Banta-Davis Land, the school is pumping the current system at a cost of $900 per month.
Amy Mestancik of Indian Hill wondered whether portions of separate schools could be shared, such as a library or dining facilities? Fox-Melanson said that there are rules about distance and a K-2 school does not require quite the same infrastructure as a middle school. "I like the present K-8 campus, but we have also maxed out some of the common areas on the campus."
Member Harry Crowther asked about the availability of the Congregational Church and was told that they are in the process of constructing a new sanctuary. The Carlisle Town Meeting had voted down the option of purchasing the Congregation Church and land several years ago.
Marguerite Widell of Maple Street brought up the funding mechanism for new school construction. Approximately 59-percent reimbursement could be expected from the state and there is generally a five-year delay. Business manager Eileen Riley did say that reimbursement for the construction of the Grant Building will begin to show up on the town's balance sheet. Riley added that the proposed septic system's leaching field on the Banta-Davis Land would handle increased construction but, according to the state Title 5 regulations, a septic treatment plant would be required.
When asked about modular classrooms, Riley replied that that option is not inexpensive. It is also temporary and is not reimbursable by the state. Also, as Principal Andy Goyer said, when a school goes modular you still have to consider the art facilities, the dining room and the gym.
Ginny Lamere of Rutland Street wondered about a school site in town on another piece of land. Morrison responded, "One task for the municipal land committee is to do an inventory. Town land is free but there is very little of it in Carlisle for town buildings." Lamere also wondered whether the present single-story buildings could support a second floor.
CSC member Cindy Nock commented that the Banta-Davis Land has always been available as a site for a new school. It was agreed that the school committee and the recreation commission would need to coordinate on planning if the Banta-Davis Land appeared to be the best option for a new facility.
Fox-Melanson reported that school parents had been issued an invitation to a forum on January 11, " How to talk to Children about Sensitive Issues," given by former Carlisle Public School teacher and psychologist Rosemary Apthorp.
The superintendent also thanked David Flannery, director of buildings and grounds, for all his efforts to make the school systems free of potential Y2K problems. The new year arrived on the school campus without a hitch.
School committee member Nock reported on the recent Concord-Carlisle Action Committee for Teens (CC ACTS) meeting organized by the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest. CC ACTS is a collaboration of school administrators, teachers, parents, clergy, law enforcement officials and social service providers who became alarmed at the results of a youth risk survey conducted by the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest in 1998. The group's focus is at-risk behaviors such as suicide, eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse among teens. The group intends to share related articles for schools to use in their newsletters.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito