Friday, January 6, 2006
RSC adopts $19,189,282 budget for FY07
At their last meeting the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) voted to adopt the $19,189,282 FY07 budget guideline recommended by the Concord Finance Committee. The budget will require an override in Concord of roughly $190,000. With fewer Carlisle students enrolled at the high school than in recent years, Carlisle's portion of the regional high school budget has at least temporarily gone down. RSC member Michael Fitzgerald said that because of these savings, Carlisle should be able to match Concord's override level within the regular budget. The Carlisle Finance Committee will discuss the high school budget on January 30.
Fees for co-curricular activities, loss of department heads, and elimination of support services for students in need are some of the possible repercussions of budget cuts at Concord-Carlisle High School in FY07, according to scenarios presented by Finance and Operations Director John Flaherty at the December 13 RSC meeting.
The RSC's Preliminary Request was
a budget of $19,612,465. A first round of cuts were made to draft an Adjusted Preliminary Request of $19,378,154, which was still higher than the Concord Override budget the RSC finally approved. However, if Concord voters defeat the override proposal, the CCHS budget would need further reductions to reach to a level supported within Concord's levy limit.
Prior to their vote, the RSC discussed in detail what budget items would need to be eliminated for the various funding levels.
An initial $234,000 in cuts were needed to reach the Adjusted Preliminary Request. This included the elimination of two half-time teaching positions, dropping a $23,000 request for additional Special Education staffing, and trimming $30,000 from computer instruction, supplies and materials. The bus fleet requires one less vehicle for FY07, which will bring a $70,000 savings in transportation costs.
STEP, radio station cuts
More cuts are needed to get down to the budget which meets the Concord FinCom Override Guideline. These include a 20% reduction in instructional supplies and materials at all schools, no additional staffing for the Student Transitional Educational Program (STEP) as requested, a $5,000 cut in the materials and supplies for principals, an $8,000 cut in radio station staffing, less maintenance staff in the summer and the elimination of money for Senior Projects. RSC member Michael Fitzgerald lamented the cuts to STEP and the radio station. "These programs were for some of the previously unserved kids." The administration and RSC hope to get external funding to cover the cost cuts to the radio station budget.
"Sobering" cuts at levy limit
To get down to the Concord levy limit, another $474,000 must be taken out of the high school budget. More extra-curricular activities would have fees attached. There would be further cuts in information technology supplies and materials, computer hardware and software and more reductions in the summer maintenance crew. Also, there would be $30,000 less for athletic equipment, a social worker in the guidance department would have to be let go, 2.5 full-time teachers or their equivalents would be handed pink slips and there would no longer be department chairs, who now have reduced teaching responsibilities. RSC member Nicole Burkel said, "These cuts are pretty sobering."
Leigh Davis, a student representative on the RSC this year, felt that requiring fees for the non-athletic clubs at the high school would deter kids from trying different activities. "We will see a drop off of freshmen and sophomores in these activities," said Davis. Burkel was also dismayed. "We don't want fees for these. There is so little opportunity for kids to interact with other kids."
Principal sees future problems
Dulong expressed concerns about the effects of the reduced budget. "Social workers work with students who have family, personal and relationship needs." He sees a risk, particularly with special education students, as they have needs in this area. "We don't want to push kids to out-of-district placements because they have social and emotional problems that could have been addressed by a social worker. It is good to have a social worker at CCHS." He added that if teachers have to be cut, "Certain individual courses might have to be eliminated which may significantly diminish the breadth of a department. If we lose department chairs, the administrative organization will change. The department chairs are fully occupied. Most are in one to two days a week during the summer."
"Most important school"
Facing such constraints on the operating budget, the RSC was not actively considering plans for renovating or replacing the high school buildings, as had been recommended last year by the RSC Feasibility Study Committee. However, former Carlisle School art teacher and Concord resident David Negrin strongly urged the RSC not to delay building a new high school. He said, "The high school is the most important school these students attend before they hit the outside world."
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