Friday, November 29, 2002
School works with fiscal constraints
"Recognizing the fiscal constraints, we are just trying to meet the challenges of sustaining the school in a reasonable way. I consider this will be a year of marking time and holding on as much as possible," said Carlisle Public School Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson at the November 19 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee. She also said that the budget she presented is "very much of a first pass."
Responding to the finance committee's (FinCom) preliminary guideline for the FY04 budget which offers the school a 2.625% increase over FY03, the school has come up with an initial counter-proposal of a 2.97% increase. This proposal makes no provision for an increase in student enrollment. The librarian's full salary is included in this budget as is the position for the choral music teacher. This year (FY03) these two positions were funded by the Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF) and the Carlisle School Association (CSA), but the administration felt the school should not count on this funding in the future. The budget funds one teacher assistant and the CEF funded portion ($4,095) of one permanent substitute. Kindergarten and bus fees will continue.
"There are many unknowns," said Fox-Melanson, "because both the teacher and bus contacts have yet to be negotiated. The negotiations are scheduled for the beginning of the year." She reported that the Carlisle School generally has only one bidder for the bus contract, however the number of buses for next year will be the same.
At this time there are no provisions for restoring the positions or programs that were cut this year, including the fifth grade foreign language program, the elementary special educator position, the formal teacher mentor program, the elementary health program, two permanent substitutes and three teacher assistants. No provisions have been made for student furniture, and preventive maintenance.
The unmet needs list includes a reading specialist, updating of tech-nology, and funding programs for students who scored in the "Needs Improvement" or "Failing" categories on the MCAS. There is no money for software and equipment for the mandated reporting of files to the state.
Parent Sean Flynn and FinCom representative Lisa Jenson Fellows encouraged the school to make available a list of specific needs, prioritized with associated costs. School committee member Michael Fitzgerald said we "need to ensure the quality of the education in the community. There are kids behind all these numbers."
The school committee and administration plan to meet with the FinCom on December 11 to continue the dialogue before the actual hearing in January.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito