Friday, February 1, 2002
ABCs of the CCHS budget
It would cost Carlisle about 17% more to fund next year's share of the operating budget for the Concord-Carlisle regional school district, if the budget presented by the Concord-Carlisle Regionsal School Committee (RSC) at the January 23 Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) meeting is approved.
The RSC proposal reflects increases in salary and nonsalary expenditures, and identifies three additional levels of spending, called Category A, B, and C. (See Table 2.) The RSC recommends adopting the Category C budget.
"Category A," which director of financial services Deidre Farrell described as "level services plus special education" would add $112,500 for MCAS tutors, a computer lab supervisor and a half-time clerk. This would raise the operating budget 8%, Carlisle's assessment 16%, and require a $345K override in Carlisle, according to data provided by RSC and calculations by the Mosquito.
The "Category B" level, according to superintendent Ed Mavragis, would restore expenditures lost when the higher overrides in Concord and Carlisle were not approved by voters last spring, adding to Category A $67,500 for additional time for a chair for music, summer curriculum work, and a clerical position. This would raise the budget 8.5%, Carlisle's assessment 16.6%, and require a $364K override.
"Category C" was described as including new programs, pared down to an additional $30,500 for half-time position for computer science instruction, along with Category A and B expenses. This would raise the operating budget 8.7%, Carlisle' assessment 16.9%, and would require an override of $373K.
No flexibility in contract
Next year's budget adds 2.85 full-time positions, at a cost of $139,000 to serve an additional 29 students. FinCom chair Tony Allison questioned Supt. Mavragis about the limits on the number of students one teacher can teach in a day or a week, which effectively constrains the school to hire about one new teacher for every 10 additional students. "There's no flexibility" in scheduling students due to this restriction, Mavragis said. He added that next year's budget also includes $15,000 for an attorney to advise the CCRSC during contract negotiations with teachers.
Allison also questioned whether the 10.3% increase in salaries for special education was due to enrollment increases, and the average salary increase for teachers. Since half the high school teachers are at the top of their salary range, average salary increases are less than five or six percent, Mavragis replied.
Certain functions, principally administration and the business office, some operations such as transportation and data services, and maintenance and other costs for the Ripley School, are shared with the Concord Public Schools, with the regional district usually paying forty percent. FinCom member Larry Barton questioned how the decision is made on these allocations. "We could be subsidizing [Concord Public Schools]" he conjectured.
Barton also questioned Mavragis what the computer replacement item (to be raised 50% to over $150,000 next year) covers. Not only computers, but other hardware, cabling, licenses and so on, make up the expense, Mavragis replied. Barton also suggested that textbooks being newly adopted should be on a separate budget line.
The operating expenses in the Category C budget would rise 8.7%, but Carlisle's share of costs would rise twice as fast, because the town's enrollment is increasing precipitously. To a questions from Allison on the town of Concord's plans, Mavragis said he senses support for several levels for overrides among the selectmen (see story and Table 1). The school plans to develop a priority list, showing what would be removed from the budget at each spending level, if that were the highest level approved, Mavragis said.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito