Friday, May 17, 2002
Still no budget for high schoolConcord approves two overrides for CCHS
It was bound to happen. Two towns with different tax structures and budget priorities, setting the high school budget independently, are bound to end up in a mismatch.
This week Concord voters were faced with three ballot questions, representing three tiers of overrides for funding the FY03 budget for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). The budget proposed by the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC budget) was 7.75% over FY02; The Concord Selectmen budget proposed 7% over FY02; the Concord FinCom recommended an increase of 5.6%. All three levels passed at the Concord Town Meeting on April 22. The two lower levels, the selectmen's and FinCom budgets, passed at the Concord town election on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the high school, Carlisle's proposed budget for FY03 provides far less funding than either of the two Concord override levels. Carlisle would need to raise an additional $91,193 to match the Concord FinCom budget, or $138,492 to match the Concord Selectmen's budget.
After this week's vote in Carlisle, rejecting all tax overrides, raising the additional funds will be difficult. Carlisle Selectmen have already voiced their opposition to funding the high school out of the town's stabilization fund, pointing out that depleting reserve funds may endanger the town's AA bond rating. The two towns must agree on the same level funding.
The next step depends on the regional school committee and on the Carlisle Selectmen. The RSC could decide to accept a budget equal to Carlisle's levy limit, ending the conflict. This, however, is unlikely as it would require deep, unpopular cuts in staff, programs and extracurricular activities, according to CCHS.
The most likely scenario, already discussed by the Carlisle Selectmen, includes holding a Special Town Meeting in Carlisle on June 10, followed by another town election the week after. If still no agreement is reached, the RSC may decide to call a joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting in July.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito