Friday, April 19, 2002
CCHS prepares for mismatched Concord, Carlisle budget votes
At the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) meeting on April 9, committee members, the administration and even audience members continued to grapple with the various complicated scenarios that might evolve should voters in Concord and Carlisle not align their approvals for the high school budget. (See last weeks' issue of the Mosquito available in the library and at www.carlislemosquito.org for detailed information on two towns' regional school budget approval process.)
The timing of the two towns' Town Meetings and elections needed to accomplish this becomes a critical factor in the planning process, since all meetings must meet legal guidelines for public posting and notification. Most of the possible voting outcomes bring the regional school committee uncom-fortably close to June 30, 2002, the end of the fiscal year.
While there are accounting protocols in place to temporarily operate without an approved budget, there are other consequences of a delay, particularly if it drags through the summer. The longer the delays to an approved operating budget, the more emotional and financial hardships it places on many of the staff as they wait to know if they are hired for the upcoming school year. These delays could directly impact the quality of education at the high school, regardless of which budget is approved. As Art Dulong, CCHS principal, explained to the Mosquito, "I have department chairs asking for permission to make new hires, but I've told them that until we know the budget situation, we cannot move forward, even if it means losing potentially good teachers and staff or the ability to prepare for new classes and programs."
Deirdre Farrell, director of financial services, submitted a draft timeline with tentative dates for action that would work towards a resolution before July 1. A brief summary follows:
April 22 Concord Town Meeting
May 6 Carlisle Town Meeting
May 14 Concord and Carlisle
override ballot votes.
May 16 RCS meeting to recon-
sider the budget, should
Carlisle's vote not match
The towns have 45 days from the time the regional school committee resubmits a budget to each hold a Special Town Meeting. A Special Town Meeting in Carlisle could be called for the purpose of approving the use of excess levy funds (if available) to meet the budget level already voted by the Town of Concord. Such a vote would not require another trip to the ballot box. If passed, the budgets would match.
If a vote does not result in matched budgets, the regional school committee could again resubmit, reconsider or amend a budget, or call for a Joint Special Town Meeting, which could happen on or around June 19.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito