The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 10, 2003

The whole MCAS story

To the Editor:

Recently, your paper reported on Carlisle's latest MCAS scores. The thrust of the message was how well we are doing. That is not the whole story. There are lots of families in pain, shedding tears and having sleepless nights over dismal scores. Some of these kids will be at risk of failing the high school MCAS. Where is your story about them?

Name withheld for student's privacy.

CPAC seeks volunteer to help with Superintendent search

To the Editor:

The Carlisle Parent Advisory Committee has been asked to participate in the Superintendent search. Our group will be allowed one representative in the process. We are asking anyone who is a parent of a child currently enrolled in the school from preschool to eighth grade, and is on an identified special needs program, to submit your name to Ann Wilkes by October 24 at 1-978-287-4016 if interested in being the group's representative. We will be meeting on November 5 (time TBA) to vote on our member and to discuss our platform issues that we as a group feel are critical to qualities needed in a new Superintendent.

Ann Wilkes
Hartwell Road
Carlisle Parent Advisory Committee

Theft at Foss Farm

To the Editor,

After a summer of tending our garden at Foss Farm, we were so disappointed to visit our plot last week and find that our entire plot of pumpkins and butternut squash had disappeared without a trace. If anyone has information on their disappearance, please give us a call.

Melinda Howe
Acton Street

CCF thanks town for supporting sheep grazing project

To the Editor:

On a bright and breezy afternoon last Sunday, 100 adults and upwards of 50 kids turned out on Towle field to observe the second fall sheep herding demonstration. The Carlisle Conservation Foundation, which sponsors and funds the sheep grazing on Towle Field and Spencer Brook Reservation without any financial support from the town, is grateful for the turn out and for the support of town residents.

Sheepscapes of Surry, New Hampshire has been contracted to provide the flock of sheep which varies from 250 to 400, the shepherds, the sheep and guard dogs, and the electric fencing. For the herding demonstration the shepherds and their dogs showed how the herd can be controlled, moved from place to place and divided onto smaller groups. David Nishita, one of the shepherds used his crook to up end and immobilize one of the sheep for the children to pat and observe. Refreshments and conversation followed.

Given continued community financial support, the Foundation plans to the test for the control of invasive species like buckthorn and native species like poison ivy for a fourth year. This will allow an evaluation of using sheep grazing in conjunction with annual mowing to control these plants. On land which is continually grazed, buckthorn and other woody plants eventually give up while grasses thrive.

Sunday was a beautiful day. The sheep, the shepherds and their hard working dogs thank you for participating in a wonderful event.

Art Milliken, President
Carlisle Conservation Foundation

Class of 2006 thanks Spaghetti Supper supporters

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Class of 2006, we extend an enormous thank-you to the townspeople of Carlisle for their support of Tuesday's Spaghetti Supper. It was fabulous to see so many people willing to wait, even when the line stretched practically back to the street, to enjoy a spaghetti supper with friends and neighbors. The proceeds from the evening will support the class throughout their middle school years. Thank-you to all the businesses and individuals who donated Spaghetti Supper ingredients, supplies and raffle prizes. We hope everyone in Carlisle will patronize those businesses that year after year lend their support to the town event. The Class of 2006 would like to thank the staff and administration at the school for their enthusiastic support and last, but not least, all their parents who worked so hard to make this year's Spaghetti Supper a great success.

Annie Halvorsen, Marcy Guttadauro, Susan Mills
Co-chairs of the Class of 2006 Spaghetti Supper.

Atkins and Fargo supporting alternatives to toxic chemicals

To the Editor:

At a State Legislature's hearing held September 18, State Representative Cory Atkins and State Senator Susan Fargo testified in person in favor of the bill "An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals". Their continuing support for this and other environmental bills will help protect us and our children from hazardous pollutants that have been linked to chronic diseases.

Dan Scholten
Patten Lane

CCHS teachers need a contract

To the Editor:

Teaching at Concord-Carlisle High School has been an absolute pleasure. The students with whom I have worked from Concord, Carlisle, and Boston have been eager, motivated, and respectful; their parents have been supportive and attentive. There is a spirit in the building of a shared mission; the students understand and believe in the absolute commitment of the teachers, administrators, and support staff who help them to succeed.

We are wholly grateful for the years of support the towns of Concord and Carlisle have shown to their schools. In order to continue this shared mission, the teachers and staff need a contract that allows us to help the towns' children in the very best ways that we can.

Rebecca Britten Loprete
Garden Road, Concord
Teacher, CCHS

CCHS teacher asks for community's support

To the Editor:

As an educator, I believe there is no better place to work than at Concord-Carlisle High School. The combination of gifted and dedicated staff members coupled with parental support provides the optimal student-centered environment. Community involvement from local businesses and financial support from organizations, such as Teachers, Teens, Together (T3), Community Chest, and the Parents' Association, allow for funding of supplemental activities which enhance student learning both in and out of the classroom.

The faculty is a team of educators dedicated to student growth and achievement. Each teacher brings his or her own area of expertise to facilitate and optimize the academic environment. As an inclusion teacher for the Pathways program, I have had the privilege to witness this dedication first hand. In my four years at CCHS I have been fortunate to work with teachers from virtually every department on a daily basis.

Every department has made tremendous efforts to ensure that each student is guaranteed the right to access the general curriculum. This sentiment was echoed in a Department of Education Special Education Audit in 2001 in which officials commended CCHS for the seamless delivery of service for all students. It is the constant communication among teachers, that fosters this supportive environment. These professionals attend summer meetings, participate in early morning student review conferences to accommodate parents and students, and attend IEP meetings after the school day has ended. In addition, teachers communicate with students and parents via e-mail and telephone into the evening hours to accommodate and clarify their needs. This collaboration is contingent upon teachers having time in their schedules. I sincerely hope the community will support the vehicle that provides this time · a fair contract.

Thomas Keane
Reading, Massachusetts
Special Education Department
Concord-Carlisle High School

CCHS teachers need a fair contract

To the Editor:

Four years ago, my family moved to Concord because we knew how much this community takes pride in its civic traditions and values its school system. Two years ago, after many years at a neighboring school district, I had the opportunity to become a teacher at CCHS. My colleagues at the high school have a uniquely high level of collegiality, professionalism and dedication to their students. Every time I walk into the English Department, I am struck by the energy of the endeavors taking place there · teachers sharing ideas about books and preparing lessons that ask students to reach for a deep understanding of complicated material rather than skim over surveys of required topics. My colleagues frequently meet with students outside of class time to help them reach the high standards they have set, or provide focused and individual feedback on essays, reading, and other assignments. Their results are obvious in the surrounding classrooms where this energy and personal attention translate into student learning and intellectual achievement. It is a pleasure to work in such a caring and talented community.

In the last two years, I have come to appreciate even more the impact that strong community support can have on a school, its faculty and most importantly its students. As a teacher, but even more as a parent, I am concerned that the current cuts and lack of a fair contract could jeapordize what is so special about our schools. If we sacrifice the working conditions of the teachers, much of what makes our school system a reflection of community traditions will surely suffer.

Ingrid Sutter
Pine Street, Concord
Teacher, CCHS

Communities and teachers must work as allies to preserve the excellence of CCHS

To the Editor:

The excellence of the Concord and Carlisle Schools is well documented. Ask any realtor why every year dozens of families pay top dollar for small homes in these towns. The answer is largely the quality of the schools.

I have taught at the high school for 19 years and chose to move to Concord with my family because of the connection we feel with those who value culture,

education, and civic activism in this lovely town.

The teachers are working without a contact, and the tone in the towns is strongly divided as the recent vote and angry Town Meeting in Concord demonstrated.

To scapegoat teachers as the source of the towns' financial woes is as shortsighted as it is wrong. Rolling back wages and working conditions that were fairly negotiated through many years and contracts will undermine what makes the schools strong. It is an educational community where children learn in a supportive environment with professionals who make personal connections with students and are able to lead and inspire them.

Critics decry the "greed of the teachers;" I have yet to encounter a teacher who was "in it for the money" or (sadly) for the public respect that the job affords. I teach because I love teaching. I know that when I help students grow, challenge themselves, and find their voice, I have earned my pay. I work surrounded by gifted educators who chose this vocation out of passion rather than pursue more lucrative and prestigious careers.

The towns should see the schools as a community resource and the teachers as allies in maintaining them. The schools and teachers have demonstrated excellence and professionalism for many years. It is easy to criticize, it is not easy to find solutions without destroying the excellence we have.

David Prifti
Main Street, Concord
CCHS Art Teacher

Read, debate, and share your ideas on revenue enhancement

To the Editor:

Many thanks to the Mosquito for your extensive coverage of the Revenue Enhancement Committee's (REC) Report to the Board of Selectmen (BOS).

We are all familiar with the financial challenges facing our town. Citizens enjoy excellent schools and fine town services. Unfortunately the cost of providing these is high and rising. Unless we want to cut services we need more money to finance them. This could come from higher property taxes. But our taxes have risen sharply in the last five years. The level of property taxes provides real challenges to some of our neighbors, especially those living on fixed incomes and those who are unemployed. Cost savings are being pursued but there is limited scope to enhance efficiency. That is why it is essential to consider new options for raising revenues.

As co-chair of the REC, I was delighted that the BOS greeted our report so positively. They have instructed the Town Administrator to take action to investigate increasing revenue from fees and funds. As requested they are studying a range of new initiatives over the next few months.

I hope that the report generates a wide-ranging debate among residents about how to raise revenues to support services while controlling property tax increases. I urge people to read the report and discuss its ideas with others in town. Let the BOS know which ideas you like. If the BOS forms ad hoc committees to pursue some of these ideas, consider volunteering for them. Lend your town your expertise and enthusiasm. Or formally propose your own suggestions.

Lisa Jensen Fellows
Co-Chair, REC
Judy Farm Road

Consider a real estate transfer tax for Carlisle

To the Editor:

As a member of the Revenue Enhancement Committee (REC), I would like to thank the Carlisle Mosquito for its coverage of our report to the Selectmen.

The REC's charge was to evaluate Carlisle's fee structure, determine if Carlisle's revolving accounts have excess funds, and identify other revenue sources available to Carlisle. Carlisle's unique character required the Committee to be creative in identifying other potential tax revenues.

The process used to generate the ideas presented in our report included conducting open meetings with concerned citizens and business leaders, benchmarking practices of innovative towns, using the efforts of existing town committees, and evaluating Carlisle assets that could be made revenue producing. The ideas presented were not intended to be "implementation ready." Rather, they were meant to stimulate discussion amongst Carlislians on how to fund future services. One can challenge the ideas (Ms. Liteplo doesn't like advertising on school buses-an idea not in our report) or ridicule them as hallucinogenic, but we encourage townspeople to review and debate them. Furthermore, we hope that for every idea discarded, a new idea is presented.

Finally, I would like to highlight one idea. Carlisle does have one thriving industry-real estate. There are approximately 25 new and 50 existing houses sold each year. By instituting a 2% transfer tax on those 75 transactions, the Town could generate $900,000 in additional annual revenues. (The REC recommends that these funds be dedicated to paying for Carlisle's capital needs). A tax of this nature only impacts those buying real estate in Carlisle. It taxes those who seek the benefits from Carlisle's assets (e.g., schools) without having contributed to the cost of creating those assets. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard already have this tax, and Winchester approved the tax at Town Meeting. Rep. Atkins has agreed to sponsor the home rule petition required for the tax to become a reality. I hope this recommendation will be supported by the Town.

Although disbanded, the REC is available to discuss any idea that will help ease Carlisle's property tax burden.

Bret H. Bero
Hartwell Road

Revenue enhancement report clarifications

To the Editor:

As the Revenue Enhancement Committee (REC) member who oversaw the Fee Study Report, I appreciate the coverage provided on our Report. At over 50 pages, it was admittedly a lot to condense down into a few paragraphs and some may be left with misperceptions. So I thought it important to go a bit further in explaining our process and findings.

Before any recommendations were made, we conducted a comprehensive survey with all department heads resulting in a first-ever database of all non-53 fees. We then followed up with a comparative analysis conducted with seven area towns. Our findings showed that, while several departments have stayed on top of their fees, some department fees have not been altered for over 10 years and are in need of review.

The recommendations in our report are focused on those fees that are outdated, do not cover the cost of the service provided or potential new opportunities. By undertaking good business practices and benchmarking Carlisle's fees with those of other towns, we most certainly could raise additional revenues. However, we acknowledge that the overall amount may be limited and won't solve our town's financial challenges. But put in perspective, the adjusted fees would represent a significant portion of the override recently approved by voters and would be more than the entire budget for either the Council on Aging or the ConsCom! The Report also makes it clear that before any fees may be altered, they must be taken up by the appropriate governing board or commission with public review.

I'd also like to clarify that we did not recommend a "trail fee." Rather, our suggestion is to install a vandal-proof box at trail heads to solicit donations. This tactic has been successfully employed at state and other private conservation properties.

I'd urge everyone to check out the report summary online (www.carlislemosquito.org) or view the entire Report with the fee spreadsheets at Town Hall or the library. If anyone has questions or would like to discuss our conclusions, please feel free to call me.

Larry Bearfield
North Road
Fee Study Task Force,
Revenue Enhancement Committee (now disbanded)

Fox hunting in Carlisle and Concord

To the Editor:

It can hardly be news to our friends and neighbors that fox hunting is going on in Concord and Carlisle, with hounds following scent, not hunting live foxes. Our hunt club has been hunting with horses and hounds in this area for the better part of three decades, and its predecessors for many more. In fact, our hunt was invited to hunt in Great Brook State Park by the donor of that park to the State several years before there even was a Great Brook State Park.

Contrary to the dreadful image presented in Cristianna Marks' letter (September 19), our hounds do follow scent and are most definitely not a danger to every creature in their way. They are no more a danger to other dogs than dogs normally are to each other. (Incidents of dog-walkers' dogs getting into altercations with other dogs in the park are a common occurrence.) We have crossed paths with many dog-walkers over many years whose pets have not been bothered, as they had their dogs on a leash or under voice control as clearly required by park rules. We also have hunted Great Brook only with park permission, with notice given months in advance, and on only three occasions per year. We post signs and endeavor in many different ways to let our neighbors know when we will be out.

We deeply regret that the Marks' dog was harmed in any way. The club has offered to pay for any necessary medical care and wishes their pet all the best. Our hunt strives in every way to be a good neighbor. We have put a major investment into clearing and maintaining trails at Great Brook and in Concord, trails that are also used by walkers and skiers. We would like to think that we add a bit of color and tradition to what are still somewhat rural towns. Is that not why many of us live here rather than in Wellesley or Brookline? Equestrian sports were at the heart of the usage planned for Great Brook State Park by the family that donated it for pleasure of all of us in the region. It should be possible for reasonable people to work out ways the park can be enjoyed by all.

Lawrence and Marjorie Franko
Members, Old North Bridge Hounds
Silver Hill Road, Concord

Another view on foxhunting incident

To the Editor:

I'm responding to Christianna Marks' letter regarding an incident at Great Brook Farm State Park on September 9. Unlike Christianna, I was present at the scene of the alleged attack. Our signs were posted at all park entrances by 7:30 a.m., and our permits in order. When we encountered the Marks and their large dog, a few of the youngest hounds stopped, exhibiting curiosity but no aggression. Mrs. Marks immediately began beating the hounds with a leash, making it difficult for us to call them back. Dr. Marks shouted threats of lawsuits and revoked permits · all this just because we passed by him on a legal outing. Our hounds did not injure their large dog.

Moments later we heard yipping from the ridge above us. I never saw the small dog until another staff member and I went back to find two of our puppies who were frightened and hiding. Mrs. Marks was carrying the Sheltie (belly facing up). She said the dog had been injured and she was upset because a trip to the vet would make her late picking up her children at school. I assumed the injury was not serious, since she was most concerned about the inconvenient timing. From only a few feet away, there were no injuries visible.

Dr. Marks was holding a large club-like stick. He threatened my friend with it and twice challenged him to "get down off his horse." Luckily, our puppy, Cache, appeared about 20 feet up the trail. Instead of clubbing us, Dr. Marks threw the club at the puppy followed by a few baseball-sized rocks, scaring her back into the woods. We took that opportunity to escape.

We are dedicated to our hounds largely because we love dogs. We would never intentionally harm an animal, which is why our hounds are trained to follow a licorice-scented mixture of anisette and oil. The only ones showing willful intent to do harm were Dr. and Mrs. Marks who assaulted us as well as our hounds.

Barbara Davidson-Miles
Owner / Manager
Mile's End Farm
Princeton Road, Sterling


2003 The Carlisle Mosquito