Friday, September 30, 2005
Carlisle and Concord officials focus on school facility needs
The Concord and Carlisle Boards of Selectmen, Finance Committees and Regional School Committee (RSC) met on September 22 to discuss Concord's financial health, school enrollment numbers and projects affecting the budgets of the towns and the Concord- Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS).
RSC member Michael Fitzgerald said the number of children in kindergarten in Carlisle is down from 90 last year to roughly 60 students this fall. John Flaherty, Director of Finance and Operations in Concord said their enrollment numbers for grades K-5 is 26 lower than expected. The high school population is currently at 1251, which is also lower than projected.
Brenda Finn, Superintendent of both Concord K-8 Schools and CCHS, said, "Facilities will remain a focus." She pointed out the improvements that have occurred over the last year at the high school, highlighting the new language lab, the new phone system, new gym lockers and the new lights, windows and floor in the lower gym.
New high school
may be eight years away
Fitzgerald spoke about the CCHS Feasibility Study which had just been concluded. The committee did an in-depth review of the physical and academic attributes and deficiencies of CCHS. He said "The School Committee is committed to develop a campus that meets program needs. Initial discussions will begin next week." Fitzgerald expects the committee will be ready to seek design funds for a new high school in April of 2007 or April of 2008.
Concord Finance Committee member Mark Howell, noting the delay in asking for design funds, commented, "We are not addressing the next eight years of kids. We may need to think about program needs [for that time period.] We may have to put together plans to plug some of those needs. That's quite a few kids passing through our doors during that time. Eight years is a long time not to have new science labs." Howell voiced concern that students will have a tougher time getting into competitive colleges using out-dated high school facilities.
Finn spoke about projects currently being done at CCHS. Money has been voted for new bleachers, which may have to be moved to accommodate a new high school. Finn said that they are checking with architects "to make sure we have an investment that we can use in the future."
Other school building projects
Concord's two middle schools also need updated labs.RSC member Jerry Wedge asked the Concord Selectmen for a Special Town Meeting requesting design funds for the Willard School.
Fitzgerald noted that Carlisle is doing a feasibility study for expanding the K-8 schools here. Commenting on the timing of building three grammar schools in Concord and possibly one in Carlisle and a high school, he said, "We are extremely cognizant of the major building being done here. It's a tough juggling act."
Concord Finance Director Anthony Logalbo presented the Concord budget information. He expects property tax revenue will increase by 2.5 to 3% next year. He commented "It's still a tight situation."
Carlisle Selectman Doug Stevenson said, "There is a steep declining curve of tax debt [here in Carlisle]. Interest rates are low." He suggested that Carlisle work closely with Concord to find a tax rate that is palatable. He felt the challenge of building a new high school was the cost; "Timing is good; the number is scary." Stevenson asked about state aid. Fitzgerald said "We anticipate receiving the minimum reimbursement from the state. We are working with [State Representative] Cory Atkins and [State Senator] Susan Fargo." No formal presentation of Carlisle's finances was given at the meeting.
Concord Finance Committee member Mark Russell Prior said that Concord budget guidelines will be developed between now and November 17, and the school budget will be discussed at their meeting on October 13.
© 2005 The