Friday, February 11, 2000
Carlisle FinCom requests cuts in high school budget
At the request of the Carlisle Finance Committee, the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) will review the high school budget for next year to see if any reductions can be made. Although Carlisle's 19 percent increase for its share of the CCHS budget is mainly due to the 9.1 percent rise in the town's student enrollment, the budget also contains increases for support personnel and other expenses. It is these increases that the school committee will examine for any potential cuts.
At the February 3 meeting of the RSC, speaking for the Carlisle FinCom, selectman Doug Stevenson asked the school committee to try to meet the Concord FinCom's no-override guideline which would eliminate $147,000 from the total proposed high school budget. Carlisle FinCom members support the lower Concord FinCom guideline that would mean a 17.3 percent increase for Carlisle, rather than a 19 percent increase based on the RSC's initial request. Stevenson explained to the school committee that, along with the high school budget override request, Carlisle taxpayers this year also face substantial override requests for the Carlisle School and for increased operating expenses for the new Gleason Public Library.
The Carlisle FinCom is attempting to reduce the override amount requested of Carlisle taxpayers to cover its share of the high school budget increase. Although the budget talks are in the preliminary stages, the current override amount would be $232,196, based on the Carlisle FinCom's original guideline. If all the budget reductions requested by the Carlisle FinCom are made, the override amount would be reduced to $193,113.
Additionally, an extra $60-80,000 in Chapter 70 funds are anticipated from the state next year, according to Gerry Missal, director of financial services for the Concord Schools. This increase would provide a source of additional revenue to further reduce the total CCHS budget. Chapter 70 funds provide state funding for regular education students.
Carlisle RSC member Harry Crowther suggested an increase in athletic fees for CCHS students. An increase in the athletic inter-scholastic user fee from $75 to $100 could result in a $15,000 reduction in the budget. Concord member Fred Wersan said he did not support increasing athletic fees and he would rather look at other line items for ways to reduce the budget.
The list of possible reductions in the high school budget include eliminating proposed increases in administrative support personnel hours; a new full-time campus monitor to monitor the school, parking lot and after-school activities; a new full-time maintenance position; driveway resurfacing; administrative consultant services; a subsidy for ice hockey rink rental fees; and reducing teacher professional development, supplies and equipment.
Currently, both Concord and Carlisle pay the same per pupil amount with each town's assessment based on the percentage of students attending the high school each year. Crowther brought up the possibility of changing the formula to average pupil enrollment over several years to help smooth out the impact of large enrollment spikes. Missal said a formula basing the assessment ratio on the average percent of students over the previous three years would need further study. Missal also pointed out it would take a few years to have any effect on the budget since any change in the assessment ratio would require the approval of both Town Meetings.
School committee concerns
The RSC will weigh the impact of making cuts to the school budget versus the potential dollar savings for Carlisle. Carlisle member Cindy Nock said that any "cuts affect both communitiesConcord and Carlisle." Concord member Lauren Walters believes cutting the budget would do serious damage to the school. Concord member Carolyn Musicant added, "Unless class sizes increase, the public doesn't understand how budget cuts impact the schools." The RSC will discuss the budget with the Concord FinCom on February 10 and consider possible cuts before the next RSC meeting on February 29.
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