Friday, March 23, 2001
If the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) expected to see a significantly reduced FY02 budget proposal from Concord-Carlisle High School at their meeting on March 14, it didn't happen. If the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District (CCRSD) delegation had expected another intense and angry meeting with the FinCom, similar to their first joint session in January, it didn't happen. Instead, Superintendent Ed Mavragis, director of financial services Deirdre Farrell and RSD school committee member Harry Crowther presented their FY02 budget, which was largely unchanged from the numbers presented in January, and the FinCom listened politely.
Mavragis presented a CCHS budget totaling $14,925,491, representing a 12.4% increase over the FY01 budget. Excluding state aid and other revenues, this brings Carlisle's share to $3,288,701, a 21.0% increase over last year and $327,986 over the FinCom guideline.
Rising enrollments, SpEd costs
A major driver of the FY02 budget is an anticipated 7% increase in the student headcount, said Mavragis, rising from 1,056 students in October 2000, to 1,127 in October 2001. The growth of the Carlisle high school contingent is expected to be proportionally higher, from 265 students to 296. This is a 12% increase, and accounts for Carlisle's increased assessment.
The budget for regular instruction will get a 13.3% increase, most of which is enrollment driven. The special education (SpEd) budget will increase by 23.1%. Mavragis explained that the cost of special education is rising and is highly variable, depending on the level of student disability. "In the last five years," he said, "the kind of students getting special education are much more handicapped than they were before. We [have had] kids that require full time nursing care. Their needs are medical, but we have to pay for them." The school needs to budget about $75,000 per special education student. There is little help from state and federal governments.
Other costs have risen, including a significant increase in the cost of utilities, health insurance and legal services.
Few program enhancements
"Only about $187,000 is really open for discussion," said Farrell. "Everything else is continuing items." Proposed "enhancements" to existing programs include 1.75 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers, 0.25 intervention/prevention counselor, 0.50 guidance counselor, 1.0 library aide, and 0.50 radio station manager. Non-salary enhancements include additional computers.
Promises for the future
Looking into the future, Mavragis and his team anticipate "more normal" annual increases, averaging 6.5% to 7.5% in 2003-2005. These forecasts, they said, do not include possible future program enhancements.
FinCom members listened attentively, occasionally asking for clarifications. As the presentation ended, FinCom member Tony Allison slowly shook his head. "It's a lot of money."
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