Friday, November 1, 2002
Carlisle School faces another difficult budget
During the October 22 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee, the committee paused to recognize board of selectmen member John Ballantine. He explained to the school committee that his visit was to formally inform them of the board of selectmen's view of the budget planning for 2003-2004, and the percent of increase the board of selectmen will recommend. "This next year is going to be very tough," he said, adding the selectmen are not expecting an increase in state aid. He felt the budget increase would be around 2 1/2%. He said enrollment in CCHS is up, and they will probably ask for a higher amount, perhaps 4 or 5%. This brought some shaking of heads from the school committee. He said the selectmen wouldn't recommend requesting an override, because they felt it would not pass. "It's not the mood of the finance committee or the board of selectmen to entertain overrides" for next year, he continued, suggesting the school committee would have to have a "good reason" why they would request an override. Committee member Michael Fitzgerald said he hopes the selectmen would listen to possible overrides. "Of course we will listen," John said. "The next couple of years, it's going to be like this," he concluded.
After Ballantine left to attend the board of selectmen meeting, the committee discussed budget planning for 2003-2004. Fox-Melanson said 2-1/2% would be a "base" budget, with no coverage of the items that were cut from the 2002-2003 budget, such as all-day kindergarten and bus service, or items that were restored due to community contributions such as part of the choral program and the full-time librarian. Fox-Melanson suggested that to include all the items that were cut the budget would have to increase to 5%. "This will be a painful process," said Fitzgerald, "but we need to come up with a budget that gives us a quality education."
At the end of the school committee meeting, the board recognized finance committee member Lisa Jensen-Fellows. She wanted to give some information to the school committee from the finance committee. She first responded to the committee's discussion of long-term capital requirements. During the meeting Fox-Melanson had discussed a long-term capital requirements report by supervisor of buildings and grounds David Flannery. In the report he had listed as the highest priorities the need for a maintenance truck (he currently uses his own truck for school maintenance), the purchase of computers, and repair or replacement of the moving wall in the auditorium. Jensen-Fellows recommended the committee not request the purchase of a maintenance truck, but suggested instead the school try to share truck usage with other town departments. She said selectman Ballantine didn't have the latest finance committee information and she wanted to clarify what the Fincom was thinking. "The recommended percentage of increase will probably be more like 1.5 or 1.8%," she said, causing stunned looks on the school committee's faces. She said she could explain the finance committee's revenue assumptions at the next finance committee meeting, scheduled for Tuesday October 29, at 7:30 p.m. Fox-Melanson shook her head, at how hard it was to think about the cuts in services that will have to take place to fit a 1.5% budget.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito