Friday, June 7, 2002
An open letter from the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee
I would like to update you on the ongoing situation regarding passing a budget for the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School. The regional school committee has called for a joint Town Meeting on Thursday, June 27, at CCHS at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to all registered voters of Concord and Carlisle, and will have the final determining vote in the creation of the high school budget. This is a Town Meeting, requiring your presence, not a vote at the polls. The joint Town Meeting will be held only in the event that the Carlisle Board of Selectmen or the Carlisle voters do not agree to pay their full assessment share for the high school.
The process of passing a budget is complicated by the need for both Concord and Carlisle to pass overrides. Last year both towns needed to pass an override, but through careful coordination both towns had numbers that could, and eventually did, match up. This year, however, the numbers did not match up. Carlisle Town Meeting voted only a levy limit budget and was told that they would wait and see what Concord voted, then take action.
When budget numbers for CCHS do not match in both Concord and Carlisle, a very specific legal process is followed. First, the regional school committee votes which budget to support. In this case we voted to support the level that the Concord voters had approved at the polls. To meet its assessment Carlisle would need to pay an additional $138,000. [Ed. note: As of June 5, this amount had been reduced to $125,000.] Carlisle has 45 days to respond, and may allocate existing resources at a special town meeting or take a vote to raise taxes.
Carlisle has determined that it has $150,000 - $180,000, which it can allocate without further taxation. But the May 14 override in Carlisle for the K-8 school and town budget failed. To date the decision by the Carlisle Board of Selectmen has been to use the $150,000 - $180,000 to fund the town budget, and to give a small amount towards the CCHS assessment. They have requested that some additional money go to CCHS if voters pass an override, but at this time it is not clear if they will request enough money to fully fund the requested assessment.
The regional school committee could reduce the CCHS budget passed by Concord residents, but this would have a negative affect on the school. The budget passed by Concord had no extras, and we already have to incorporate additional students who were not projected (49,as of today's registration). The difference to Carlisle of $138,000 [$125,000] translates to over $460,000 [$447,000] to the high school. This is because Concord pays about 70% and Carlisle pays about 30% (based on enrollment). The regional agreement asks that the towns pay based on the percentage of the students that they send to the school. Carlisle did have a large increase in their enrollment at the high school, and they are being asked to pay for those students.
The earliest that Carlisle can hold its votes are June 17 for a special town meeting and June 26 for an override election. If either vote fails, the region would still not have a budget. The joint Town Meeting on June 27 will not have to take place if both Carlisle votes pass and if voters are given the option to vote for the full assessment request, but the only way to ensure a budget by the end of the fiscal year is to plan the joint meeting.
Concord-Carlisle Regional High School is a fabulous school. The strength of the school comes from many years of hard work by professional employees, a directed and motivated student population, and solid support from the two towns that send students to the school. Now, more than ever, it is time to demonstrate that we do value the public education system we have built. If you now have or will have a child in at the high school, this affects you. If you do not have a child of school age but value education then this affects you. Voters from both towns, please mark your calendars, plan to attend the joint meeting on June 27, and please support our high school, a school in which we all should take great pride.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito