Friday, September 20, 2002
Carlisle School takes stock as fundraising efforts pay off
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF), which ran a letter campaign and received funds from a carnival run by students, some programs and manpower that were lost from the Carlisle School budget due to the failure of the spring override have been restored. A total CEF grant of $82,000 allows the school library to open full time and restores a teacher's aide for the seventh grade, a permanent substitute, an elementary reading tutor, and the stipends to allow student council, math league, and yearbook to go forward. In addition, a grant from the Carlisle School Association (CSA) has restored the student choruses.
The CEF and CSA funds represent about half of the $200K originally cut from the level-services budget, and while some important programs have been restored, many others have not. Elementary foreign language has been eliminated, as has elementary health. Specialists in reading, SPED, speech and language, and guidance have been eliminated or reduced. Teacher mentors and curriculum coordinators have been eliminated. Teachers' aides to support oversized seventh-grade classes have been reduced from four to one. Support staff has been cut, and three permanent substitutes have been reduced to one. Cuts have been taken in the custodial staff and in preventative maintenance.
Difficult year again in 2004
At a recent meeting of the Carlisle Selectmen, FinCom chair Larry Barton squelched hopes for a restoration of lost budget items next year. Noting that a no-override budget will allow for only a 2 to 3% increase in the overall town budget in 2004, Barton said, "Town departments expecting to be able to restore what they lost last year are likely to be disappointed." The Carlisle School had the most severe cuts last year as a $75,000 budget override, passed in June (after the May override failed), went to provide salary increases for town employees, and overages in town revenues were diverted to the Concord-Carlisle High School.
Carlisle School Business Manager Eileen Riley calls Barton's report "alarming. The items restored by the CEF and CSA are critical pieces of what we do." She notes the risk is substantial that fundraising will not be sufficient to keep vital programs going from year to year. She also points to the erosion of quality that occurs when there is insufficient support staff, noting as an example, "Professional development has become very problematic due to the loss of substitutes."
The CEF and CSA, looking ahead to next year, have joined together to plan an auction in support of the Carlisle School. It will take place at Middlesex School in Concord the evening of March 15, 2003. The goal is to raise as much as possible to again help cushion the impact of program, equipment, and manpower reductions. These organizations are appealing to the community for auction items and services. Anyone interested in a donation can contact Lisa Harris at 1-978-371-2494.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito