Friday, June 30, 2006
CSC considers drop in Carlisle School population
John Ballantine presented the results of his research called, "Discussion of Carlisle Public School Growth and Capital Needs — Changing Carlisle Demographics and Budget Pressures," at the June 21 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC). Ballantine is an adjunct professor in International Finance at Brandeis University and a former Carlisle Selectman. He foresees a decline in school enrollment over the next several years which he attributes to fewer babies born to Carlisle women, fewer women within childbearing age, and a relatively constant rate of inflow of children as new families move into town.
He estimates the population at the school will fall from the current level of just over 800 to about 720 by 2011, using past and current trends in housing developments. If an additional estimate for 40B high-density housing developments is included, Ballantine's model predicts about 760 students by 2011.
Older parents are moving into Carlisle, he explained, bringing in older students. This results in smaller classes for the lower elementary grades. In addition, older residents are not moving out, reducing the housing turn-over rate. He suggested the School Committee focus on the need for renovations rather than the need for additional space when they approach the town about school expansion and renovation.
School Superintendent Marie Doyle explained the Spalding Building was rated a "4," the poorest level in the recent state inspection, and also thought current space at the school was inadequate for current programs, "We have teachers teaching in closets and sharing classrooms."
Reached later for comment, CSC Chair Nicole Burkel said, "For now, we need to keep an eye on the trends." She said there is a legitimate need for facility upgrade, because "in the short term, we have a space issue and a dilapidated building [Spalding]."
CSC member Christy Barbee, who also serves on the School Building Committee (SBC), agreed with Doyle and Burkel. Barbee said, "As ever, the difficult objective is appropriately sizing what we build." The SBC plans to meet over the summer to continue refining the school building project, with the goal of requesting design funds at a fall Town Meeting.
See also June 2 Mosquito, Carlisle changes, yet again.
© 2006 The