The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 29, 2002

Why the school needs an override

To the Editor:

As board members of the Carlisle School Association, parents and community members, we are greatly concerned about the current budget crisis facing the town and the schools. Why does the Carlisle School need a budget override? State law limits annual property tax increases to 2.5% unless residents vote to approve a higher increase. Why does the school need more than a 2.5% budget increase? In just the past year, the school population has increased by 4.5%. Many contractual and mandated costs have increased in the last year, making it more expensive to provide the same level of services. The school also has the additional financial burden this year of paying approximately $121,000 in early retirement benefits due to a state-instituted early retirement incentive program. Finally, state aid to public schools is expected to be cut substantially this year.

Some people have asked why Carlisle Schools cannot just cut their budget to fit a prescribed budget limit. The school committee and the school administration have worked very hard over the past several months, making substantial cuts in the school budget. The initial budget, which would maintain a comparable level of service to FY'02, called for an increase of 10.77%. In consultation with the finance committee and the selectmen, the school committee presented two drastically pared-down budgets: a 6.04% increase (represented in the 7% override level), which is a $329,468 cut from the level service budget and a 5% increase (represented in the 5.9% override level), a $406,468 cut. These reductions in direct services and programs represent a painful compromise to many of us involved with the school.

The selectmen have voted to place both of these override levels on the Warrant for Town Meeting. The finance committee and the selectmen, recognizing that a 2.5 % limit on the school budget would drastically affect the quality of our school program, support the passage of the 5.9% override. The 7% level would further restore some important student services.

We ask everyone to please consider these facts and to participate in this decision-making process to preserve quality education in Carlisle.

Debbie Dawson, Muggsie Rocco, Beth Platt, Michelle Sobin, Valerie Traynor, Beth Clarke, Sarah Hart and Cecile Sandwen

Better long-term planning needed

To the Editor:

I know the letter that came home with school children on March 6th caused a significant amount of controversy in town because of how it was distributed. The good thing that it did was to provide a wake-up call for those of us who had previously taken town decision-making for granted.

During the last four selectmen's meetings that I have attended I never heard any discussion as to how Carlisle compared with other towns concerning taxation and spending. For my personal edification I compiled a list of town budgets based on the most recent information I could find on the Internet. I selected towns based upon their geographical proximity and how closely they matched the "character" of Carlisle. I have published this comparison list on the Internet (www.mycarlisle.info) for others who wish see how we "stack up" against other towns.

The one item that stood out for me was the high debt service that we currently have. The significant capital expenditures we have had over the past several years have left us in a significant financial bind. We're like the consumer who rang up too much on their credit cards and now the interest is killing us. This is further compounded by the looming capital expenditures for the new school septic system and the eventual need for school expansion. To me this all points back to the need for better long-term planning. We seem to operate on a year-to-year basis without fully understanding how the budget decisions we make today will impact us in the years to follow.

Sean Flynn
Woodbine Road

Fitzgerald to run for school committee

To the Editor:

There is an old saying that goes something like, "If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem." Keeping these wise words in mind I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I will be a candidate for one of the open positions on the school committee.

Our schools, both at the local level and at the regional high school, face uncertain times. Financial and budgetary constraints in both systems will make us rethink the ways in which we allocate precious taxpayer dollars. Both systems will soon commence searching for new superintendents, critical positions as we develop educational programs for the children of our community. In addition, as a result of the continuing expansion of the school population, we will need to address the issue of overcrowding in the classroom and to examine the possibility of constructing a new school.

Facing these issues, as well as others, will require making tough and difficult decisions. My involvement in town government, which has included two terms on the board of selectmen, two terms on the finance committee, as well as current positions on the Carlisle School Building and the CCHS Space Utilization Committees, has provided me with the experience and knowledge necessary to make these difficult decisions.

While we currently face serious issues within our schools, we must never lose sight of our commitment to provide exceptional educational opportunities for our children. I believe that I will provide an effective leadership role, ensuring the appropriate allocation of resources towards the fulfillment of this commitment. I would appreciate your support at the town election on May 14.

Michael Fitzgerald
Autumn Lane

Barbee to run for school committee

To the Editor:

As our town grows and our schools head into a period of what I hope will be well-managed change, I would like to serve on the Carlisle School Committee and will run for election on May 14.

Over the next few years, early retirements will drain our K-8 schools of some of our most talented educators. We will shortly need to begin the process of selecting a new superintendent. At the same time, Carliste's portion of the enrollment at Concord-Carlisle High School is growing, requiring a greater financial contribution from Carlisle and, I believe, more sustained dialogue within our community about the high school.

Meanwhile, with the K-8 schools nearing capacity, the town will be deciding how to accommodate growing numbers of students. The school building committee is reviewing proposals from companies willing to work with us to site and design. both a new building and the wastewater treatment facility we will be required to build.

In short, as a town, we have a lot of challenging and costly items on our agenda, requiring very careful decision-making. I think it's a really interesting time to be involved, and I'm eager to participate.

To serve on the school committee would be a wonderful and natural culmination for me. I have served three years on the school council, two as co-chair, learning about curriculum and other programs and developing suggestions for continued improvement of the schools. I am working currently with the school building committee, reviewing proposals from engineers and architects, looking to ensure that we get great facilities and good value for our money.

I encourage you to participate, and I hope you will allow me to represent you on the school committee.

Christy Barbee

Cranberry Hill Lane

Town Meeting thoughts

To the Editor:

Carlisle's Annual Town Meeting will be held the 6th and 7th of May, at the Carlisle Schools. To make the Meeting comfortable and efficient I have a few recommendations for you to consider before you arrive.

I always expect everyone to take a seat. It's crucial for counting votes and important for everyone's comfort and safety. I continue to welcome children, but they must be seated with you in the family section in the last two rows of the auditorium. They must remain quiet so that all voters can hear. Children may not sit with the tellers or play in the lobby.

As at previous Town Meetings, amendments of money amounts above those stated in the Warrant are outside the scope of the article and are not permissible. Because the Warrant is the Town Meeting's agenda and the public's warning of what will be discussed and voted upon, exceeding the article's scope exceeds the town warning.

I continue to follow time limits of eight minutes for the presentation of a main motion, and four minutes for speaking to it from the floor. If you require additional time, please let me know in advance so we can strategize. Remember that the Clerk and I require amendments in writing at the time of presentation to be sure we have the proper record of your wording and intent. If you are struck with an amendment during the Meeting, please quickly write out your wording for me, and remember these time limits.

I look forward to seeing you at the Meeting. Remember to bring your Warrant book. As always, if you have comments or questions about the Meeting, please call me at 1-978-369-5424.

Sarah S. Brophy
Town Moderator

Wildflower gardening not so easy a solution

To the Editor:

I am writing in regard to the article of March 22, about the drought. I have developed many wildflower gardens and give lectures on this subject to garden clubs throughout the state. You cannot just let your lawn grow and expect it to "turn into a wildflower garden." It will become wild but with more of the aggressive plants such as ragweed, poison ivy, a little buckthorn, some golden rod and ground blackberry plants that I call "ankle biters." If you live long enough, perhaps your grass may get a few flowers, but not a garden.

Although wildflower gardens are very easy to maintain during a period of drought, if well established, I would not advise starting one this spring, unless the rain continues.

There are even custom mixtures for a hot, dry area. This is what I would recommend at a later time (when there is lots of water) for an environmentally better garden or a New England mix.

If you planted seeds in December, as I did, you would find the rain and snow we have had has many of them sprouting. Starting a wildflower garden, as in starting a lawn, takes a lot of preparation and a lot of water. It is much easier to maintain, however, than a lawn.

Joan Parker
Russell Street

What is Restorative Justice?

To the Editor:

Wednesday evening, April 3rd at 7:30 p.m., at The Concord Trinitarian Church, 54 Walden Street in Concord, Police Chief Leonard Wetherbee and members of the Concord Restorative Circle invite their Carlisle neighbors to hear about their community mode of response to local crime. They will tell their story of collaboration, design, and implementation of the Restorative Circle in Concord, and explain its effectiveness as a civil and healing alternative to the traditional judicial process.

Restorative Justice Circles are being designed by communities, in collaboration with law enforcement, across the nation and internationally. The Concord Restorative Circle is one of the first models in Eastern Massachusetts to be successfully implemented. Community Circles bring victims and offenders together to constructively process acts of crime, re-establish trust, and restore relationships within the community.

On behalf of the Concord Restorative Circle, the members of the Concord Trinitarian Church invite Carlisle leadership, educators, law enforcement officials, clergy, the media and interested citizens to a reception at 6:30 p.m., preceding the Forum. The reception will be held in the parlor just off the main hall of the church. It provides Carlisle citizens the opportunity to ask questions, network with officials from other communities, and bring the discussion back home.

If you would like to attend the reception, please RSVP to Polly Vanasse at 1-978-369-5268, or me at 1-978-369-6947.

Kathy Rubenstein
Nickles Lane


2002 The Carlisle Mosquito