Friday, January 12, 2007
Carlisle School faces tough FY08 budget decisions
The Carlisle School Committee, faced with a possible $350,000 override request, met with Finance Committee member David Model on January 3 to discuss budget options. Two FY08 budgets have been developed; a "levy limit budget" that meets the town's recommended 3% increase, and a "level services budget," which requires a 7.1% increase to keep school services at the same level as in FY07. The levy limit budget would require extensive cuts in services. Both budgets assume a reduction of three teachers.
What is driving the budget?
Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman presented a tabulation of what was driving the FY08 budget.
Request for impact details
Much of the override cost stems from recently incurred Special Education out-of-district placements. Cuts to meet the levy limit were compiled in a priority list, and almost all are classroom- or student-activity-based. The list suggests cutting three teacher positions, three classroom aide positions, a permanent substitute, the library aide, and all stipends for curriculum coordinators, coaches, arts teachers, and after-school activities. Maintenance projects would be reduced and energy costs would be contained.
In order to explain to the town what the impact of the cuts would be to educational services, Model suggested the school should be more specific. Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle said the levy limit cuts might include:
• Teacher reductions: Special Education teacher, seventh-grade teacher, second-grade teacher;
• Cutting the seventh grade to four sections. (Currently the incoming seventh grade, over 100 students, is in five sections.);
• Raising class sizes;
• Cutting all stipends.
Doyle said she will have a list of specific cuts for the January 17 meeting.
Out of district placements
Model asked if the school could set up support for students who are currently in out-of-district placements, helping to "get the kids back into school." Director of Student Services Karen Slack said overcrowding in school is an issue. She has experience in setting up programs that encourage in-district placements, she said, and is investigating hiring a teacher trained in autism-based disabilities. The Carlisle School belongs to the Concord Area Special Education (CASE) Collaborative, she explained, which serves ten area schools, offering services to children with disabilities. However, sometimes it is not possible to use them, she said. Doyle said that it would be "in the child's best interest and best for town" to have students in the school. She added that the town can't control rising costs at out-of-district locations.
Money from state
Zimmerman explained the state's "circuit breaker" money, reimbursement for special education costs, is on a two-year cycle. The amount Carlisle will receive for the FY08 school year will not be distributed until FY10. Model suggested the school create a large SPED reserve fund to cover unplanned over-costs. Fitzgerald said if the potential for over-costs is seen, then money will be reserved in the budget. Model wondered if the CEF had funds to assist this year. Doyle noted if money is set aside this year for future over-costs then "we would lose a teacher." Burkel agreed, saying, "We've already cut what we can cut."
© 2007 The