The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 27, 2007


A look at the Carlisle School budget

Through many meetings, beginning last November, the Carlisle School administration and School Committee have built a slimmed down version of the FY08 budget to fit with the Finance Committee's limited growth recommendation. The school is requesting a $150,000 override above the levy limit, Article 6 of the Town Warrant, which is bundled into the multi-town departmental override of $245,682.

The school budget for FY08 was presented to the public on April 4 at the School Committee meeting and on April 12 at a meeting hosted by the Carlisle School Association. The presentation was recorded and will be televised on CCTV on Friday, April 27, at 3 p.m., and Saturday, April 28, at 5 p.m.

History of current budget

At the public budget meetings, Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle explained the original override request was $450,000 over the levy limit. Items in this override included one additional teacher each for second grade and sixth grade, the retention of a Special Educator and middle school general aides to assist with class sizes of over 100 students. After much discussion, a reduced override of $241,000 was approved by the School Committee, Doyle said, which led to the "loss of several" key components in the larger override budget. However, to meet the recommendations of the FinCom and the Selectmen, the school reduced their override request to $150,000.

FY08 budget

Carlisle citizens were mailed a budget summary which explains the FY08 budget and the $150,000 school override. Included is information broken down into the following program areas (see Table 1 below):

General Education: includes teacher salaries, instructional and clerical support, substitutes, early retirement, English Language Learner tutor, professional development, stipends for "leadership, mentor and activity," academic support programs and instructional supplies.

Special Education: includes Director of Student Services salary, administrative salaries, clerical support, teacher salaries, instructional support, psychologist salaries, contracted services, legal services, supplies, assistive technology and out-of-districts costs.

Administration: includes salaries for the Superintendent, two Principals, and the Business Manager.

Office Support: includes salaries for four clerical staff for administration.

Operations: includes custodial salaries, Wastewater Treatment Facility, supplies, heat,electricity, telephone, water, maintenance and transportation.

Energy costs increase

The increase in utility costs was noted by parent Andi Gettys at the April 12 meeting. She asked about future energy costs, and in particular asked about costs associated with running the Wastewater Treatment Facility. Doyle agreed that the Wastewater Treatment Plant is not energy efficient and said the school is reviewing the plant design.

Doyle also said the windows in the school buildings are "below energy code" and need to be updated. Zimmerman pointed out that a high-efficiency boiler has recently been installed, which should help reduce energy costs. She said the school is signed up for an expensive rate plan, which she is looking to change. Buildings and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery pointed out that the school is also used for community groups. "We haven't curtailed" usage, he explained, despite the energy costs, but he has discussed with the administration how to recover costs of additional hours of building usage.

According to the school's budget mailer, five teachers, several aides, several curriculum coordinator stipends ($2,000 - $3,000) and one permanent substitute will all be cut even if the override passes. Cuts of $10,000 in texts and supplies are planned, and $25,000 in maintenance projects. Building and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery explained via e-mail that the postponed maintenance includes: sidewalk and step repairs, $5,000; painting two classrooms, $5,000; carpeting two classrooms, $7,500; exhaust fan replacements, $2,500; and floor repairs in Corey upper level, $5,000.

Salaries are by far the largest percentage of the budget pie, but the percentage has decreased since FY07. According to the data supplied in the budget mailing, salaries have dropped from 83.9% of the school budget in FY07 to 82.3% in FY08.

$150,000 override

Doyle said that if the override fails, one or two additional classroom teachers will be cut, but she could not pinpoint which grade would be affected.

Historical view

Overrides, which allow the town to raise funds over the levy limit, are not new to the town budget. (See Table 2 below.) Overrides were voted for the years 1999 to 2002. In 2002 Carlisle voters refused all town overrides. Following that defeat, the school did not request overrides for two years. Due to many factors, including the cost of energy, overrides have been requested for the past two years.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito