Friday, September 15, 2000
Facing growing enrollment, CSC agrees on building expansion committee
At the September 5 school committee meeting, Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson announced that the school enrollment now totals 809 students, including the preschool children, reflecting an increase of 34 students. Last year at this time, the school had enrolled 775 children. The Carlisle School Committee, aware of the growing demand for classroom space, is feeling pressure as the present school complex approaches its 900-student maximum. In response, the group discussed the composition of the school building expansion committee and agreed on the reappointment of its members.
Chair Paul Morrison stated that the spring Town Meeting provided the school with $ 15,000 for a preliminary feasibility study. Since the plan will need authorization from the selectmen and finance committee, Morrison expressed the hope that a representative from each of those boards would join the school expansion committee.
The Carlisle School Committee voted to request that the board of selectmen reappoint the following members of the school building committee: Beth Hambleton, Jeff Johnson, Eileen Riley and Peter Cole. CSC member Suzanne Whitney Smith will represent the school committee.
School committee member Cindy Nock wondered whether the group could give an interim status report at the Fall Town Meeting. Then, funding for the design stage could be requested at the spring Town Meeting. At this time, it is presumed that the complex would be constructed on the Banta-Davis Land.
Smith provided a school building committee update and pointed out that the Carlisle Public School septic system remains non-compliant under the requirements of Massachusetts Title 5. In March 1996, the school's septic system leaching field located under Spalding Field failed to meet the state's Title 5 regulations. After exploring possibilities, designers agreed that the best and most cost-effective location for the replacement system would be on the Banta-Davis Land and all local boards approved the plans. Litigation brought about by abutters Phyllis and Timothy Landers halted this possibility. The school continues to have its sewage pumped on a monthly basis for approximately $900.
Possible changes in state's building program
Morrison commented that there are some changes being proposed in the Department of Education School Building Assistance Program which has been in existence since 1948 under Chapter 645. The changes being proposed were brought to the school committee's attention by Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson based on a report from a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Association Superintendents of Schools (M.A.S.S.). The report noted that building costs for all school projects are escalating. Therefore, the Department of Education is making some recommendations in reference to new building projects submitted after June 1, 2000. (According to the report, there are about 126 schools currently on the list waiting for funding.)
One recommendation calls for creating a new School Facilities Commission which would attempt to reduce the bias towards new construction. Other recommendations include reexamining the acreage criteria for schools, working to maintain a balance between open space and construction of new school projects in a community, and developing proposals that consider all of the communities' and state's needs.
Other possible recommendations are to create maintenance assessment programs, provide technical assistance and information for the school districts, and expand the School Building Assistance Program so that it could reimburse alternatives to the construction of a new school building. Some of the alternatives listed include leasing facilities, "tuitioning-out," arrangements with other municipal buildings, year-around school, etc. Reimbursement rates for school projects will be updated to reflect a community's ability to pay for a project. In this instance, school business manager Eileen Riley feels the Carlisle School would qualify for the minimum 50-percent reimbursement rate.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito