The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 21, 2007

Town's finances have changed

To the Editor:

I appreciated Marilyn Harte's editorial regarding affordable housing on the Benfield Land. While it is true that the dynamics of the project have changed, as Selectman Carpenito notes in his letter to the editor, it is also true that the town's finances have changed. Town Meeting approved up to 26 units of affordable housing and one playing field. The Finance Committee, of which I was then a member, only agreed to support the purchase if there were a minimum of 24 affordable housing units and one playing field. The FinCom was of the opinion that the purchase was not economically justified if under 24 units (and one playing field) were to be built.

Bret H. Bero
Hartwell Road

Back to work

To the Editor:

Perspective. Summer, almost no committee meetings, novels, faraway vacations, time with family and friends. Quiet reflection. Yes, I found that the discord at the schools, looming tax increases, 40Bs, long term capital needs and the preoccupations of Carlisle faded as the days grew longer.

Now, we are back. I wonder if the quiet from our slower pace will help us tackle the challenges ahead. There is wonderful energy in Carlisle, much beauty and much to celebrate. Others do not have it as good.

On Benfield, after five years of deliberations and three Town Meeting votes, a consensus is emerging. Build 26 well-designed units for seniors that integrate into the neighborhood/land and give the town two years of 40B protection. Yes, the location has changed — housing on the field will be visible from the street — but salamanders and the back 40 acres will be largely preserved. More town funds will be required for infrastructure, and the Housing Authority has come up with thoughtful guidelines for future developers.

On the schools, there is still much to do. Large capital projects loom and people at all levels have to listen and talk more attentively. We need to come up with a feasible rebuilding plan for both of our school systems (CCHS and CPS) that is cognizant of the tax impact, makes good use of state funds, is clear about priorities, and is phased in so that costs are spread out over the future generations that use the facilities. Of course, the focus should always remain on the educational experience of our children and the faculty. People make education, not facilities.

As the days grow shorter, the meetings, articles and work begin anew. This is all part our decision-making process: talk, listen, recommend and vote. I look forward to seeing Benfield move to the first phase of construction with less rancor, and the schools phase in both capital projects over the next several years with moderate tax increases. This will take lots of work, patience, and even that summer perspective.

Finally, I marvel at all the work of our volunteers and town employees on these town activities. Thank you all.

John Ballantine
Fiske Street

Explaining the Adult Ed Task Force

To the Editor:

A lot has been written in recent months concerning the Concord-Carlisle Adult and Community Education program (CCACE); some of it fact, some of it fiction, and all of it with emotion. I believe it is time to put the emotion behind us, listen to the facts and work together to ensure the sustainability of a program that is highly valued by our communities.

This past spring the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (CCRSC), acting upon the request of the Concord Town Meeting, established the Concord-Carlisle Adult and Community Education Task Force (the "Task Force"). The objective of the task force was to investigate the issues surrounding CCACE and to develop recommendations to the CCRSC concerning the future operations and funding for the program. The Task Force met throughout the summer and is in the process of finalizing our recommendations.

I believe it is important to identify some of the facts which we have ascertained in the process of developing our recommendations.

1) The CCACE program is highly valued, offering exciting classes for both children and adults.

2) The program is very viable and not in jeopardy or risk of imminent or future failure.

3) The program's fund balance (comparable to the town's free cash) continues to run approximately $90,000 to $100,000.

4) The past fiscal year, the program closed its books with a surplus of approximately $9,000.

5) The Director's position is fully funded within the program.

6) Of the 894 adult participants in the program, 451 (50%) come from Concord, 61 (7%) from Carlisle, and 382 (43%) from outside the district.

The Task Force will be presenting its draft report and recommendations at a public hearing on Tuesday, September 25, in the Concord Town House Hearing Room at 7:30 p.m. We encourage the public to attend.

Michael E. Fitzgerald
chair, Concord-Carlisle Adult and Community Education Task Force

Facilitator hired

To the Editor:

The Carlisle School Committee, with the endorsement of the Carlisle Teachers Association, the Carlisle School Administration and the Superintendent, has hired John Littleford, Senior Partner of Littleford & Associates, to work with all parties separately and together to address the challenges that the district faces currently.

After a day of preliminary meetings with all constituent groups, Mr. Littleford identified potential areas for improvement and stated that all parties share equal responsibility for addressing the challenges that the district faces.He foresees his future work as an opportunity for all stakeholders to learn and grow in their respective roles as leaders and representatives in the Carlisle Public Schools District.

Littleford & Associates provides management consulting services to independent and international schools and nonprofit organizations needing strategic assistance in the following areas: board governance, head compensation, teacher compensation and evaluation, strategic and financial planning, Safe Harbors compliance (for U.S.-based schools), school climate and culture, managing change and transitions, team building, marketing and fund raising and executive searches.

Nicole Burkel
chair, Carlisle School Committee

Can we wait two more years?

To the Editor:

Two more years? That's how long the new consultant to the Carlisle Public Schools has estimated it will take to address the very significant and very evident problems that plague our school system. Add this to two-plus years of discord that the school has already suffered through, and you have the equivalent of four years of high school or college. The consultant declares that there will be no benchmarks established in advance to measure progress, and furthermore that he will refuse to undertake the assignment if public records of the proceedings are kept. Feeling confident yet?

Futhermore, a member of our School Committee has said that it remains to be seen how we will pay for all this. But fear not, the Committee is finally "taking the first step to putting our house back into order."

The first step? Excuse me, but both as a taxpayer and the parent of children who went through what was once considered to be a widely respected system, this is offensive. Under the current leadership, we've lost far too many talented teachers and confidence in the system has been badly shaken. It's time for the School Committee to step up to the plate and take direct responsibility for correcting the situation — now. We should not ask taxpayers, parents, teachers, or — most importantly — our children to wait for two more years.

Scott Simpson
Judy Farm Road

Thanks to Eldridge supporters

To the Editor:

I would like to thank all 217 voters in Carlisle for their support of Jamie Eldridge in the recent Democratic Primary. We were not successful, but Jamie is a young candidate with a great future as a leading progressive Democrat. I know he will continue to be a leader in Massachusetts Democratic politics.

I would especially thank the volunteers who worked on canvassing, wrote letters to the editor, placed lawn signs in front of their homes and held signs on primary day.

The Primary is over, but we now have a Special Election on October 16. The Democrats were blessed with a field of great candidates, and we now have Niki Tsongas as our candidate for the 5th Congressional seat in Washington, D.C. This is an extremely important election and a must-win for progressive values. We need to send a replacement for Marty Meehan who will continue the fight for an end to the Iraq war, work for an equitable national health care program for all citizens, take action to reverse global warming, expand federal aid for education, and stand up for individual rights. Please join me on October 16 and vote for Niki Tsongas.

Bob Wallhagen
vice chairman, Carlisle DTC

Kurt Hayes is running as independent

To the Editor:

Now that the primaries have passed and the candidates for the October 16 Special Election ballot have been determined, I am writing this open letter to the voters of Carlisle to ask for support and your vote. If you were not yet aware that I am a candidate or have not paid attention to the race to determine Marty Meehan's successor, I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit to learn about me as a candidate.

Like 55% of the Carlisle registered voters (52% across the Massachusetts 5th Congressional District) I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am an independent. I am not running on an ideology or party line, I am running so you will be heard. You are the independent voters who cast your vote based on the candidate. You are also the Democrats and Republicans frustrated with the partisan bickering, extremists and special interests that have taken over your parties. If you are ready to help start a new American "independent" political revolution right here in the MA 5th district, I ask for your vote. If you are ready to be represented by someone other than yet another candidate from Lowell, I ask for your vote. Compare me side-by-side with the other candidates on the issues, experience and the trust you develop in the candidates to look out for you.

I look forward to the next six weeks leading up to the October 16 election. I hope that I earn your support and your vote on October 16.

Kurt Hayes

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito