Friday, August 15, 2003
High school still without a budget Concord votes 1% cut for CCHS, plus override
As a new Concord-Carlisle Regional High School administration works to prepare for a school year starting in less than a month, the challenge is aggravated by the ongoing struggle to arrive at a final budget for the current school year (FY04). "We're still maneuvering in the dark," says Regional School Committee Chair Mike Fitzgerald. "This dragged-out budget process detracts from the business we have to take care of."
In July, the Regional School Committee (RSC) voted to reduce the CCHS budget by 1% when it became clear that both Carlisle and Concord would receive significantly less state aid than had been anticipated. The Carlisle Board of Selectmen supported the 1% cut. Concord Selectmen, however, facing a massive shortfall of $900,000, held out for a 2% budget cut.
On Monday, August 11, a Special Town Meeting in Concord approved a cut of approximately (but not exactly) 1% in the CCHS budget and an override of $83,535 to raise the necessary funds for the high school. The override must be approved by ballot in a special town election.
At a meeting in June, members of the Concord Board of Selectmen expressed considerable doubt that an override, in addition to overrides approved last spring, could pass. Asked to comment on that skepticism, Fitzgerald says, "I gave up my crystal ball two or three years into my public service. I think we made a credible case [at Town Meeting] that there is a need, and we'll work diligently to convince the voters [at the ballot]."
The regional agreement requires that Concord and Carlisle must approve budgets for the high school at the same level. If the override passes on the ballot in Concord, then both towns will be substantially in agreement with the most recent budget (1% cut) approved by the RSC. (Actually, Concord's budget will be slightly higher than Carlisle's; Carlisle may need to add about $5,000.)
If the override in Concord does not pass, the RSC has the option to accept a lower budget, consistent with the Concord assessment. The alternative would be to call a Joint Town Meeting of the two towns, an alternative Fitzgerald calls "more than what is warranted for the amount of money we're talking about."
Whatever the outcome, Fitzgerald sighs, "We look forward to finally being able to move ahead."
© 2003 The