The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 22, 2002

Let's work together to solve revenue problems

To the Editor:

Over the last two weeks the selectmen and finance committee have answered questions and listened to citizen comments. The issues are clear and somewhat grim. The money that the town receives from the state is less than expected; the amount of taxes received by the town have not grown as in past years. The override guidelines set by the selectmen do not provide a level service budget to the town. The schools and many other town departments cannot operate level service within these guidelines. This scenario is happening in cities and towns all over the Commonwealth. For example, Lincoln passed an emergency override this fall over $300K and is looking at the same numbers this spring.

The decisions are many. Do we have less fire and police protection? Do we reduce the current services at the schools? Will cuts at the schools affect our school reputation and the MCAS scores? Will these cuts have a negative impact on our property values? Will higher taxes force our seniors to move?

Cuts must be made to the budget or a higher override must be presented to the town. The message the selectmen received was clear. Put a tiered override on the ballot and allow the public to decide the override amount. The selectmen look at the big picture and set the override amount based on a number of factors.

The fact remains that our town continues to grow. More people live in Carlisle; more students attend our schools; and we have more fire, police, and town government needs. We need to look for creative ways to produce revenue for the town and to allow seniors to stay in town. The answer is not to cut services. We need to find a creative way to place a ceiling on taxes for our seniors. We need to look for a way to put cell towers on town-owned land to produce revenue to offset growth. We need to work together in a civil manner to accomplish these goals.

Maureen Tarca
Partridge Lane

Proud of town officials

To the Editor:

Doesn't seem very much like democracy to me. We elected our town officials to make the hard choices necessary to serve us all. That's democracy. Personally, I'm proud of these few and talented people who make the sacrifices necessary to fulfill the needs of all our citizens, and the majority trusted them enough to do just that. For them, and in some cases, their families, to be subjected to the methods and form of harassment witnessed recently, I consider a dishonor and disservice to us all.

I hope to never witness it again.

Frederick Bentley
Brook Street

"Our children need us"

To the Editor:

I was looking through some pictures of a past visit to the Statue of Liberty. In the background, the Twin Towers are majestic. Sadly, this strength has crumbled. Our state is in financial turmoil, a backlash to the agonizing tragedy on September 11, 2001. And now, word that our precious school may suffer. My son, Jacob, is in second grade. I believe the current financial crisis at our school must be braved, even as I watch my taxes increase. We must insure that ours kids are not victims of September 11, any more than they have been. Let us be a team looking at a difficult reality and working together! From my experience, this is what Carlisle Public is all about. In Jacob's schooling, it is dramatically apparent. He has special education needs, and the school has embraced him and nurtured his success. Because of this commitment, he now has the same potential as any other student. Please, in these uncertain times, be careful not to be frightened by the label "special education." I understand the unknown can be perceived as a perilous thing, but my son is a real little boy, perhaps with more challenges than yours, but much the same! He requires an aide in class, but she is often shared by all. Jacob's presence has enabled the kids to learn about differences and to adjust to them. His presence, in many ways, enriches the class, as it does me! This is special education! In Jacob's case, it is not a huge economic drain, nor is it with many of the kids with special needs. However, without the help Jacob receives from his wonderful teachers and school, he would not have the hope for the future your child does. All children are worthy. We must not let them be punished because of the acts of an evil few on September 11. Our children are ours for such a fleeting time. Let us care for all of them to the very best of our abilities!

We have a fine school. Our kids get a fine education. We are providing a rich legacy for them. The horrors on September 11 remind us that life is short and very precious. Join together in determination, compassion, and hope. Our children need us. Our school needs us. Let us heed their call.

Joan Hoffman
Patch Meadow Lane

The haves vs. the have-nots

To the Editor:

We were outraged to discover that the Carlisle School system condones political activity that, in our opinion, is entirely self-serving and utilizes its children as messenger pawns. We are among the vast residential population whose children are now grown-ups and we had to read in the Mosquito (3/15/02) that a letter was sent home with the school children encouraging parental protest regarding potential school budget cuts. Can we presume that when we draft a letter of rebuttal that it will be provided the same courier service? Gee, come to think of it, the efficiency of the system could become a revenue-generating model.

Further adding to our bewilderment is the disgusting behavior exhibited by those who telephoned our elected officials and were rude and obnoxious to them and their families. Does everyone need a reminder that our officials are volunteers, and as important, is this the type of environment our kids are being raised in? If so, no amount of money thrown at the schools will help.

But let's move beyond that hopefully one-time error in professional (?) judgement and lack of civility exhibited. Let's face the reality here. It's time to take off the self-entitlement "we deserve it" hats and get creative. It may very well be time to look at all Carlisleans as providers of a certain level of school services. Beyond the mandated services, let's impose a fee-based system to fund the add-on services desired by well-intentioned parents. Let's admit once and for all that there is, in fact, a difference between the two. Please spare us the rhetoric about our kids having had received a good education so now we owe others. If you want to go there, then base the argument on a model that makes the facts entirely relevant to then vs. now. The argument that it increases the value of our property is also moot for those of us who have no plans of moving.

The reality also is that there's another population in Carlisle that is increasingly annoyed by these annual overrides. In Carlisle, "haves and have nots" is becoming defined as those with kids and those without. It's beginning to become a divisive lightning rod. It's time to acknowledge that we're not in Kansas anymore and do something constructive about it instead of simply tacking more "O's" on our tax bills.

Larry Bearfield, Robin Emerson
North Road

Misconduct by school officials

To the Editor:

While I agree with those who feel school children shouldn't be asked to deliver political messages to their parents, there is a larger issue that hasn't been voiced. Paid officials should never take a public stand, much less campaign, on issues that affect the town in which they work.

By agreeing to distribute a flyer that clearly was designed to affect the selectmen's decision about school budget options, our school officials campaigned. That is not simply inappropriate; it is misconduct. If a pay increase for our librarians was at issue this year, would we want the librarians to slip a flyer pleading their case into each book that is checked out?

The fact that four citizens asked school officials to send a political notice home to parents is almost as appalling. It is one thing to care passionately about a cause; it is quite another for four intelligent people to lose their sense of judgement and, essentially, to play dirty pool in an attempt to affect public decision-making.

Worse, these actions are merely the tip of the iceberg. We need to address, individually if not collectively, the attitudes that are causing so many people in Carlisle to sometimes forget what citizenship is about. Lurking beneath the surface are feelings of entitlement, a narrow view of the public good and an unwillingness to compromise. This is growing quickly, and Carlisle is the poorer for it.

Steve Kendall
Cross Street

Senior citizen perspective

To the Editor:

Thanks to our youngest member of the board of selectmen who expressed concern for the long-term residents of Carlisle. We have seen many friends leave town because of our ever-increasing taxes; we do not plan to move unless evicted.

Perhaps one way to pare back the budget would be to provide the half day of kindergarten as suggested by last week's Mosquito editorial. There was no kindergarten for our children.

If one reads the Police blotter, it would seem ludicrous to cut the police patrol to one officer per shift. So where do we start? Let your conscience be your guide.

Kay Woodward
South Street

Maybe a stoplight for horses

To the Editor:

My name is Kyla Caffrey and I am eight years old and I live in Carlisle and I have a pony and my mom has a horse.

I think it would be a good idea to put a crossing stop light near Mr. Campagna's barn so horses and riders can cross the street and go into Foss Farm. You should have a button at horse height so that riders can push the button to make the cars stop and let the horses cross the street. Just like the one in Hamilton near the Myopia Hunt Club that lets horses cross route 1A.

Kyla Caffrey
Russell Street

Rethink town goals now

To the Editor:

I am writing in reference to articles in the March 15 Mosquito regarding the town budget.

In this time of financial upheaval, it does not seem prudent to be asking citizens again to pay substantially more taxes. There are many people in Carlisle who have lost jobs and additionally more are retired on fixed incomes. Perhaps we need to rethink our town goals now, however much we prefer to act differently. The FinCom members are extremely hard-working volunteers who devote their time, free of charge, to town government. It seems patently unfair to castigate them for trying to insure fiscal responsibility. Additionally, to attempt to coerce children seems to me to be the lowest way to fulfill adult needs. Children cannot understand the bigger picture and no teacher or other parent has the right to interfere with family interactions by remarks about their parents.

The following measures should be seriously considered:

1. Returning to half-day kindergarten as is mandated by the State. More kindergarten services should be privately financed by those who benefit from them.

2. Less town services for the present. In personal finances, one cuts back when funds are not available.

3. Perhaps this is a good time to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce the school library size and turn the space to classroom use, at least until the economy turns around. In the distant past, a school library was necessary, but now all children in this town have access to the nearby Public Library and a computer, either at home or at the library. For research this is an excellent tool. The library has an excellent staff to answer questions.

The early 1990 cutback cited in the articles, far from being disastrous, may be what is now needed.

Alex Parker
Russell Street

Tax relief for senior citizens

To the Editor:

It is inevitable that taxes will go up this year, the only question is how much. Since we all bemoan the fact that increased taxes are making it harder, if not impossible, for older citizens to continue living in Carlisle it is important to find ways to ease the financial burden for older residents. One way are the various systems used in the surrounding towns which allow senior citizens to volunteer for specified town jobs. The amount earned, set at a specific level, is deducted from their real estate tax.

I write because this idea was deemed worthy last year and I was told would be implemented this year. However, the article for it has been taken off the warrant so that the town does not have a chance to vote on it. I write to plead for its inclusion. It is important that older people realize that their needs are taken into consideration. The amount of money entailed is not large, and considerably less than paying for new families moving in with school age children. I don't begrudge young families, but it's hardly fair not to look after the needs of older families as well.

Eunice Knight
Bedford Road

CCHS musical a delight

To the Editor:

For those lucky enough to purchase tickets, the first two weekends of March provided a community event that brought together in cooperation parents and children, boys and girls, the young and the not-so-young, the teachers and the students. I'm referring to the annual celebration that is the Concord-Carlisle High School musical. This year's production, Cole Porter's Anything Goes, played to turn-away crowds and left the audiences on their feet, asking for more. It's a tribute to the dedication and vision of our music and choral teachers and coaches that a musical as challenging as this one was undertaken and successfully staged in a form that, to quote esteemed director Chuck Brown, was "nothing less than spectacular."

Staging a show of this magnitude requires talented and courageous students to be sure, and we have been endowed with an abundant supply; but it also requires a great deal of assistance from the community at large. The enthusiastic participation of CC-POPS (Concord-Carlisle Patrons of Performing Students) in publicity, "feed the kids" during the grueling preparations for these performances, costuming, makeup, front of house support, and amazing set construction was an essential component of this production. Those who aided in these activities should feel justifiably proud and you have earned the thanks of an appreciative audience.

Finally, staging a musical takes a lot of money. The advertising of area merchants and professionals in the show's beautiful program provided the largest part of that funding. We are grateful to our local businesses for your support of community events such as this production and we hope to return the favor with our best compliment, our patronage.

I know I speak for many other delighted audience members when I say "congratulations" to the cast, musicians, technical crew and directors of Anything Goes, and thank you to the many supporters of the arts in Concord and Carlisle schools.

Steven R. Lazar
College Road, Concord

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito