Friday, January 11, 2002
School faces FY03 budget angst
After lengthy deliberations Tuesday, December 18, the Carlisle School Committee decided on a trimmed-down FY03 budget, representing a 10.38% increase over last year's, which it could recommend and still maintain educational quality. Caught between the budget guideline of a 5% increase over FY02 set by the Carlisle Finance Committee and the realities of 30-35 additional students every year, contractural obligations with the school faculty, transportation services and special education programs, committee members agonized over cuts and offerings. A 5% budget would mean the end of some current services at the public school.
Several cost saving situations were discussed, such as returning to split kindergarten sessions. Instead of four classes of kindergarten classes requiring four teachers, there would be four half day sessions requiring two full time teachers. While this would reduce costs of teacher salaries there would be an additional estimated cost of a $10,000 for a kindergarten bus run during the middle of the day.
School committee members also considered reducing the number of teaching assistants from four to two for the four sections a large sixth grade of 105 students in the middle school. CSC member Paul Morrison pointed out reluctantly it may become necessary to have 26 or more students per class.
Additional saving could be realized if the school support staff, such as lunchroom and library aides, are reduced by a position and a half and the school psychologist position cut to a half. A reading specialist, the health program and music program would all be reduced. The early retirement program for the faculty could be pulled "outside the school committee budget" These reductions would result at an 8.12% budget increase for FY03, still not the hoped for 5% increase set by the FinCom.
Returning the reading specialist, the four single sessions of kindergarten and the middle school teaching assistants brings the budget to the 10.38%. Superintendent Fox-Melanson said, "It is already a trimmed down budget but early intervention is crucial. Developmentally it is better to focus on the early grades." CSC member Cindy Nock recommended preparing three levels of services and letting Town Meeting decide the overrides. Meanwhile school business manager Eileen Riley plans to attend the finance committee hearing to explain the consequences of budget choices.
Cost per pupil
The school committee noted that per pupil expenditures are $8220 this fiscal year, FY02, based on 857 students enrolled on October 1, 2001. In FY01 expenditures were $7800 per student from a total of 819 students.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito