Friday, March 3, 2006
New teachers contract gets thumbs up Carlisle School
FY07 budget over FinCom guideline
Smiles all around greeted the news at the February 15 Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting that the CSC collective bargaining subcommittee had reached a preliminary agreement with teachers in negotiations for a new three-year contract. The teachers unanimously voted to accept the contract proposal earlier that day. CSC chair David Dockterman said that the contract would be reviewed by CSC members prior to a probable vote at their next meeting on March 1.
The smiles lasted through a presentation on the science curriculum, but faded when the discussion turned to the $8,436,520 draft school budget for FY07, which exceeded the FY06 budget by 6.1%, and was $188,166 over the guideline set by the Finance Committee (FinCom). The FinCom had recommended a 3.7% increase.
An overview of the FY07 budget was presented by School Business Manager Steven Moore. (See table on page 4)
Details may change as cost estimates are refined. For example, Moore later said the school budget will probably be reduced by $20,000, because a data management task previously perfomed by a part-time position will be reassigned to one of the principals. Also, the budget includes a 10% increase for electricity costs, but Moore noted that the recent rate hike was much higher. A "typical" monthly bill had been about $10,000, but this February's was twice that.
Also to be considered are the school's capital requests, listed on February 15 at $175,260, before adding the cost of temporary or permanent classroom construction, being considered by the School Building Committee. On February 27 Moore told the town's Finance Team meeting that expected costs had risen for the boiler repair, originally budgeted at $70,000. The recent draft report from RDK Engineering recommends replacing both boilers with a new heating system at a cost of between $325,000 and $390,000. He said the school will ask RDK for more details on whether repairing the old system is a possible option.
To address the excess over the FinCom guideline, Moore highlighted significant changes between the FY06 and FY07 budgets. "There's a lot of this that is mandated," said School Superintendent Marie Doyle. Expenses which might be difficult to modify include: fuel costs, bus and teacher contract obligations, and the cost to operate the new waste water treatment facility.
CSC member Michael Fitzgerald encountered reluctance when he asked School Superintendent Marie Doyle and the CSC to create a prioritized list of items, in case the school budget did not receive full funding from the town. Doyle said that the $25,000 for a math specialist might be more important than using the entire $40,000 allocated to enhance principal salaries in order to attract experienced candidates. On the other hand, the $25,000 for a technology aide was "not as important, but necessary." Doyle stressed, "We cannot underpay principals."
CSC member Nicole Burkel advised against reducing the budget. "I don't think we've gotten an indication that this number is out of line. This is the number we need, to run the school." The CSC voted to approve the draft FY07 budget for presentation to the FinCom on March 6.
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