Friday, January 16, 2004
Deep budget cuts loom at CCHS
The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) will have to make some difficult changes to the high school program to meet tight budgets in the 2004-05 school year (FY05), according to Regional Superintendent Brenda Finn.
The levy limit budget for the high school, which would not require any override of Proposition 2-1/2, is a very spare $16,022,346. The Concord FinCom has proposed an override budget of $16,633,877. The Carlisle FinCom has not yet floated an override budget number.
Finn outlined the guiding principles her staff used to format the proposed 2004-2005 budget. "First, we focused on the students' needs," she explained. "We want to retain staff that have a direct impact on the students." Second, they plan to reorganize the administrative functions, focusing on better services using fewer resources. Third, they will adhere to the student-teacher ratio of 95:1, as stated in the teachers contract. Potentially this will approximately raise class sizes from eighteen students to twenty-five. "Last spring we staffed for a ratio of ninety-five to one," commented Concord-Carlisle High School Principal Art Dulong, "but [with no enrollment growth] it looked more like ninety to one this year."
Finn's fourth area of concern is the special education costs, which will be "scrutinized." Finn emphasized that the school administration and school committee will "listen to all voices; the needs of the school versus what the town people can pay."
Cuts for level services budget
Finn then outlined what cuts would be needed to bring the high school budget from a "level services" budget (keeping the services the same as in 2003-2004) to the FinCom override level. The first eight cuts were administration positions and custodial staff reductions. Additional cuts included SPED tutors, music theory and video production classes, and a curriculum coordinator. A $40 fee for all co-curricular activities and $180 fee per athlete per sport would be charged.
Several committee members felt the cuts were too deep and would impact students too much. "It's not business as usual," commented committee member Nicole Burkel. "No," agreed Finn.
Cuts for levy limit budget
To reach the levy limit would require eliminating the senior project, the radio station, all athletics, as well as the career education counselor. Additional cuts not yet identified, totaling over $100,000, would still be needed, Finn explained.
"This is our first go-around," responded Chair Michael Fitzgerald. "We'll address this issue at every meeting for the next two months, up until the Town Meeting." The committee passed a motion to recommend a budget of $16,844,079, which is $210,202 higher than the FinCom override budget.
After the meeting, Carlisle FinCom member Bret Bero said he was impressed by the effort and work done by the Regional School Committee. According to Bero, many of the cuts are a response to requests by the FinCom and Selectmen of both towns.
© 2004 The