Friday, April 6, 2001
Voters to decide on CCHS budget Selectmen propose two levels of override
On April 3 the Carlisle Board of Selectmen met with members of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) and the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) in the hopes of agreeing to a compromise budget for the high school for FY02. The FinCom has offered to support a 12% increase over last year, while the school committee has asked for 21%. When agreement could not be reached, the selectmen voted to offer two levels of override and "let the voters decide."
Lawrence Walters spoke for the RSC, which has recommended placing alternative budget levels on the ballot in Concord. "The school committee is not likely to recommend an amount less than what we adopted [in the full 21% budget]." Noting the care put into the budget preparation, he pointed to factors driving up costs, including staff salaries, an increase in students, special education costs, and utilities. "This is not a budget that includes programmatic initiatives," he added.
Pointing out that "it is not the sentiment of this board to fully fund this budget," selectman Mike Fitzgerald spoke to the advantages of finding a level the Concord and Carlisle selectmen and the RSC could all endorse. "There's a higher probability of a funding level succeeding if we all agree."
Presenting a list of items which would be eliminated, Walters mentioned a reduction of $200,000 that "might provide the alternative you're talking about." At this level, an increase of 17.5% for Carlisle (over the FY01 CCHS expenditures), the high school would retain "core services." Harry Crowther, a Carlisle member of the RSC supported this proposal.
FinCom chair Simon Platt responded that the FinCom would be "very unlikely to support much more" than the 12% already offered. The selectmen were divided on whether to support a 17.5% budget, with Fitzgerald and Peters for, Stevenson against, and Ballantine "on the fence." (Vivian Chaput was not in attendance.)
Faced with the possibility that neither the FinCom nor the selectmen would support a 17.5% increase, Fitzgerald proposed offering the town two budget options. The first would ask for a 17.5% increase over FY01, which would require CCHS to trim $207,151 from its proposed budget, and would require Carlisle to vote a Proposition 2-1/2 override of $150,057. The second would cut $357,208 from the budget, for a reduced override of $108,733.
Adding the CCHS override amount to the Carlisle Public School override of $150,000 would bring the total FY02 override levels to $258,733 and $300,057.
With both Concord and Carlisle offering multilevel overrides, the probability of agreement between the two towns is low. A joint town meeting may be necessary to provide a resolution.
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