The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 8, 2002

Voters should have a chance to decide on school budgets

To the Editor:

I attended a meeting of the Carlisle School Committee on the evening of Tuesday March 5.

The school is being required to propose some cuts in order to meet FinCom's need for a balanced budget. (FinCom is required to produce a balanced budget).

In order to meet the requirement to cut $364K from the school budget, the school will have to cut all of the following services:

· closing the library

· cutting the four teaching assistants for the very large middle school class (6th grade, 107 students in four sections)

· not funding a second reading specialist

· cutting the kindergarten program to half-days with each of two teachers having a morning class and an afternoon class.

These services total approximately $260K. An additional $100K is being cut that would be required to maintain the current level of services offered to our students in the face of the rapidly growing enrollment. Our enrollment growth is averaging 4.5% per year. In October of 2000 there were 819 students enrolled; in September of 2001 there were 857.

I would like to see the citizens of Carlisle have a chance to vote on a town budget that includes the continued operation of the school library, the current kindergarten program, the four teachers' assistants and the reading specialist.

Democracy is about having choices and voting on them.

We will only get a chance to vote on a budget that keeps these vital parts of our school program if the town selectmen include an override level on the ballot that includes funding for these services.

I hope that Carlisleans will contact the selectmen to let them know their views on this subject and I urge our selectmen to let the voters decide if we want these drastic cuts in our excellent school.

Andy Gettys
Cross Street

Chaput to run again

To the Editor:

I wish to take this opportunity to announce that I am running for another term as your selectman. With a broad range of volunteer experiences in town including seventeen years on the planning board, six years on the board of selectmen, and several years as a director of Carlisle Elderly Housing, Inc. at the time that Village Court was built, I bring to the position a unique background and commitment. I also bring professional experience in planning, real estate management and development and a Master of Business Administration degree. My background and interests have led me to be your representative to a wide range of organizations including the fiscal policy committee of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as well as the Sudbury Assabet Concord (SuAsCo) Wild and Scenic River Stewardship Council.

My efforts have assisted in achieving certain of the town's goals, including land preservation and open-space efforts such as the O'Rourke farm and the passage of the Community Preservation Act. I have also been actively working toward increasing the town's financial reserves with the development and proposed sale of a lot in Carriage Way subdivision. I helped establish the bicycle and pedestrian safety committee to protect the safety of schoolchildren and others who use town ways.

But there is more that needs to be done in the area of maintaining the excellence of our schools and town services, and beginning to meet our affordable housing needs while being cognizant of escalating costs and taxes. I believe that I have the experience, skills and financial training to continue the search for reasonable and realistic means of maintaining the town's special character while preparing for its future needs. I would appreciate your continued support. Thank you.

Vivian Chaput
Milne Cove Road

Thanks for condolences

To the Editor:

Thank you for all for your notes, thoughts and condolences. As many of you know, my mother, Lucia Heffelfinger deGrazia died in a fire that destroyed her home in Princeton, New Jersey, on February 9. We had a wonderful service last week complete with a gospel singer, poetry, talk and a Dixie Land jazz band. It was a great send-off. Nonetheless, adjusting to such an abrupt death will take some time. The warmth of family, friends and community make it a lot easier.

Thank you.

John Ballantine
Fiske Street

Let's give CPA a chance

To the Editor:

I'm perplexed by the logic of the FinCom, as reported in the March 1 Mosquito, in recommending reduction in the monies to be collected under the Carlisle Preservation Act (CPA). The FinCom seems to be upset that the town has not yet decided how to spend the funds.

The CPA specifically provides that a town may save up the monies it collects, and indeed even bond against future revenues, thereby enabling a town to finance capital expenditures for recreation, conservation, historic preservation and affordable housing. It's similar to how many families finance college education for their children: save up in advance, pay some at the time of acquisition and borrow if necessary.

If I followed the logic of the FinCom, I shouldn't bother saving up for my children's college expenses: I won't be "buying" anything in the next couple of years and anyway, my kids might do me the favor of not bothering with college, or perhaps choosing a more affordable alternative such as UMass. And if they want Harvard and I can't pay for it out of current income, too bad.

Same thing with the town: if an important piece of land comes along in, say two years, for recreation, conservation or affordable housing and we can't afford it because we haven't prepared (and taken advantage of the ongoing state match!), too bad.

The citizens supported the CPA overwhelmingly less than a year ago at Town Meeting and at the ballot. The town spoke clearly. Let's give the CPA a chance.

Wayne H. Davis
Concord Street

CCHS assessment explained

To the Editor:

As you present discussions about the development of the FY03 budget, on the matter of the CCHS portion, please note the following:

The number of Carlisle students at CCHS, as of last fall, increased by 15 percent over the prior year. The number of Carlisle graduates in the class of 2001 was lower than usual, and the entering class of 2005 included the largest number from Carlisle in recent history. There were over 40 more Carlisle students this year.

Per-student costs at CCHS are about $12,000/year. Carlisle and Concord pay identical per-student rates. Other things being equal, when we send 40 more students to CCHS, our bill increases by about $500,000. The proposed budget would actually change our assessment by about this amount.

The assessment increase this year, and in fact in any year, largely depends on the numbers of students each town sends to the high school. While there are still more than twice as many Concord students, there are often more new students from Carlisle than from Concord. It is the influx of students from Carlisle that is the principal cause of the large increase.

The increase is not a result of increasing costs at CCHS, which surprisingly have not changed dramatically, on a per-student basis. For FY03, the per-student cost will actually decline slightly. The increase in the total budget is consistent with the total student population increase. This is indicative of very careful fiscal management at CCHS.

So, while it is unfortunate that our CCHS assessment has increased very significantly, the increase has everything to do with the reputation our town has earned for its fine schools, as a great place to live in and grow up in and in which to attend school.

Harry Crowther
Bedford Road
School Committee member, Carlisle & CCRSD

Chinese celebration courtesy of teachers and parents

To the Editor:

We want to thank the Mosquito for the wonderful pictures published last week of the celebration of the Chinese New Year by the kindergarten and fourth-grade students at the Carlisle Public School. We are always happy to see pictures of the many enriching educational and cultural activities provided for our children at school and are proud that we have been able, with the support of the Carlisle School Association, to sponsor many of these activities. But this time, the Cultural Enrichment Committee did not sponsor the Dragon Dance, as attributed in your photo. Kindergarten teachers Karen Morse and Cassandra Jeitles, along with several parents, arranged this activity as part of a grade-wide celebration of Chinese New Year. Chiao Bin Huang, the parent of a fourth grader and a teacher of traditional Chinese dance, performed a Chinese Ribbon Dance for the kindergarten and the fourth grade. Chiao Bin and the family of a kindergarten student graciously sponsored these performances. We would like to thank the teachers and parents involved in this collaboration for providing yet another learning experience for our children.

The CSA Cultural Enrichment Committee

Giving credit where credit is due

To the Editor:

I wish to correct an item that appeared in the March 1 Mosquito regarding my role in the design of the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. As was made very explicit to Alex Beam, the reporter for the Boston Globe, I was not involved in the design or execution of the project. The real credit should go to Easley Hamner and Bill McGee, two of my partners at the Stubbins Associates, as well as scores of others who helped to create the complex. It should also be noted that Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Venetian, was the inspiration and driving force behind the Venetian, which is the world's largest (and most successful) resort hotel.

Scott Simpson
Stubbins Associates
Judy Farm Road

Ed. note: Information in the March 1 Mosquito was taken directly from Alex Beam's article that appeared in the February 19 Boston Globe.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito