Friday, November 4, 2005
School plans cuts to cover higher energy bills
Rising energy costs may require severe budget cuts at the Carlisle Public School, School Business Manager Steven Moore reported at the October 19 Carlisle School Committee meeting. Electricity costs for the school year may increase by 70% and gas costs by 50%, and these increases may result in a shortfall of as much as $104,332 in the school budget.
Reached later by e-mail, Moore explained the approach to the planned reductions. "The SC (Carlisle School Committee) asked the administration to draft a plan as to how we would meet the energy shortfall. The administration looked at areas in the budget where we currently had unexpended and unencumbered funds. The key to the whole process was not to impact the educational program."
Moore presented an "Energy Costs Budget Action Plan" to the School Committee which details three "tiers" of buget cuts, depending on how much support is given from the town to cover the additional expense.
Tier I Reductions
Tier I reductions include borrowing money from the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) operating budget. "When we built the budget last January the construction schedule called for building the WWTF over the summer and a winter start, so we budgeted dollars to run the plant for 8-10 months this year," Moore said. "Last spring initial bid prices were so high we elected to redesign the plant and then we had the bid protest. These delays pushed the construction schedule back. We now may only need to operate the plant for 1-3 months this year. This would make the balance of the operating funds available for offsetting the increase in energy costs."
Another cut would be the stipend School Committee Secretary Claire Wilcox receives for working on School Committee business. When asked what effect canceling the stipend would have, Moore said, "It means that we all need to do a little bit more to keep the office work flowing." Moore also said, "We first identified the WWTF (Waste Water Treatment Facility) dollars and then asked David [Flannery] to create a list of projects that could be deferred for one year." (See table.)
Tier II Reductions
Tier II reductions use money from the School Committee legal expense fund, and the salary amount savings due to the reduction of the kindergarten sections. "If at the end of this year we did not need these [legal] funds we will use them to cover energy costs." The school saw a large drop in the incoming kindergarten class this year. "We reduced kindergarten from four sections to three sections this year, due to class size," Moore explained. "With the savings we hired an aide to assist the kindergarten teachers. The $10,000 is the balance of that savings." When asked if the funds could be used in Tier I, Moore said the funds were being held in case there is a need to hire an additional aide.
Tier III reductions
Tier III reductions involve the cutting of educational materials, and will have a direct impact on students and education. "Tier III dollars impact instructional supply lines," Moore said. "We are reluctant to make these cuts but will have no other choice if we cannot find the funds in other budget lines [as the year progresses] or do not get some assurance from the town that funding support for extraordinary utility cost will be provided."
SPED circuit breaker funds could help
"We recently identified an additional $16,000 in Special Education Circuit Breaker funds that could offset the shortfall should they not be needed to defray increased SPED costs," said Moore. "We will continue to monitor the budget for sources to offset the increase in utility costs. We are also trying to increase our energy conservation efforts."
© 2005 The