The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 21, 2001


CCHS 'level services' budget means 13.4% increase for Carlisle

Evidence of a renewed spirit of cooperation and collaboration was shown on Wednesday evening at Town Hall when Ed Mavragis, superintendent, and Deirdre Farrell, director of financial services, of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, and Carlisle members of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee Cindy Nock and Harry Crowther, presented a preliminary draft of the FY03 budget for the high school to the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom).

Aside from informing FinCom about the likely numbers they will be wrestling with in the coming months, it was an opportunity for the administration to present some of the data and reasoning behind the expected increases. The meeting also gave the FinCom members the opportunity to ask questions most pertinent to Carlisle voters.

A 7.1% increase for CCHS is ...

In brief, Mavragis and Farrell presented a three-tiered budget ranging from approximately $15.6 million for level service ­ a 7.1% increase over this year ­ to $15.7 million. In addition to operating costs and contracted salary increases, fueled in part by state-mandated early retirement contributions, additional spending to maintain level service will include:

· enrollment-driven additional clerical help and teaching staff,

· mandated MCAS remediation staff,

· a computer lab supervisor.

A new computer science course, summer curriculum development and a music/art chair were proposed line items in the higher tiers of funding.

...a 13.4% increase for Carlisle

However, Farrell calculates that this relatively modest 7.1% overall budget increase would result in a total increase in Carlisle's assessment of 13.4%. The largest factor driving the increased assessment, enrollment increases, dominated the discussion. Next year Carlisle's high school population is expected to rise over 5%, while Concord's will rise less than 2%. As Nock pointed out, the enrollment pressure that forced the building of Corey is now hitting the high school.

Carlisle growing faster

Further projections suggest that both Carlisle and Concord high school student populations will continue to rise into the year 2007 before leveling off or declining. FinCom chairman Tony Allison noted that, even after the total population begins to drop, Carlisle's proportion of enrollment is predicted to continue to grow. Mavragis offered one hypothesis for why this is so, suggesting that perhaps, due to Concord's lower tax rate, older couples whose children are grown are staying in their homes longer; the turnover of homes from empty-nesters to families with school-aged children may be slower in Concord than in Carlisle.

As the FinCom looked over the numbers and charts, Carlisle's "double whammy" was again clear - the town pays a growing share of costs which are also growing. At the next meeting Farrell agreed to present a breakdown of Carlisle's assessment into the percentage increase driven by enrollment and the percentage driven by additional program costs. Mavragis noted that many factors, particularly those that involve decisions at the state and federal level, could still have major effects on the budget.

Next meeting

The next meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled for January 23. By that time the regional school committee will have before it a more definitive version of the high school budget. Stay tuned.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito