Friday, February 10, 2006
Per pupil assessment rises at Minuteman Regional High School
Assistant Superintendent Thomas Markham presented Carlisle's FY07 estimated assessment for the Minuteman Regional High School (MMRHS) to the Finance Committee (FinCom) on January 31. Minuteman, located in Lexington, provides an alternative for Carlisle students wishing a technical education. Although the average cost per Carlisle pupil will rise by 21% over FY06 to $19,404, a reduction in students means the assessment will fall by $6,730 to $183,948. Currently nine full time Carlisle students attend the school, versus eleven last year.
The proposed MMRHS budget of $16,139,498 is an increase of 2.8% over FY06. The Minuteman Regional School District (MMRSD) consists of 16 communities which share the cost of running the school according to a formula based on enrollment, ability to pay, and numbers of students in special education (SPED). Carlisle's comparatively high per-pupil assessment reflects the cost of full-time enrollment and the fact that seven of nine students receive SPED services at a surcharge of $4,250 per student. In addition, Carlisle absorbs a "state-required minimum" assessment based on town revenues. This number increased 6% to $119,956 for FY07, in spite of the fact Carlisle is sending fewer students.
The school currently serves 939.41 full-time equivalency (FTE) students, which includes full-time high school students, part-time on-site students, and 150 students receiving technology literacy courses in their own middle schools. Full-time in-district enrollment is 504 full-time students, with another 212 in other types of programs. Enrollment of students from out-of-district is 239. Enrollment is growing in-district, but the school has chosen to take fewer out-of-district students. The state sets the out-of-district tuition rate, which has historically not reimbursed the school for its full costs. Markham noted this policy may be changing, as this year's rate of $14,500 "is actually somewhat realistic," though still lower than what Carlisle, an in-district community, pays.
Minuteman has been able to reduce salary costs $200,049 (20%) due to job consolidations and hiring of "folks at the lower end of the scale." Eleven teachers retired last year and 16 this year. However, other costs are nudging up. Transportation is up to $1,233,855, an 8% increase. Rising fuel prices are a concern because students must be bussed from all over the district. Health care is up $223,324 (20%) and retirement $113,833 (34%). Capital expenses of $250,000 include elevator safety equipment, upgrades to the fire alarm system, ADA-compliance, technology, and new cafeteria tables and chairs to replace ones 30 years old.
FinCom member Dave Model referred to the school's "impressive job managing costs." Markham noted that 52% of the Minuteman full-time population receives special education and Model called it "remarkable" that costs for these students could be contained. Markham noted that, unlike a local school district which must provide services, Minuteman would not enroll a student with severe needs, "We just wouldn't have the program for them."
The Minuteman Regional School Committee consists of one representative from each of the 16 district towns. It has submitted the budget to each district town for approval at Town Meeting. If 11 of the 16 pass it, the budget is adopted and the assessment to each town is imposed.
© 2006 The