Friday, March 14, 2008
Carlisle faces $251,610 override for CCHS
Carlisle’s budget gap may be closed with a single override: one for $251,610 in funding for the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). The Finance Committee recommended this override level and Board of Selectmen concurred when they finialized the Warrant at their meeting on Tuesday March 11 (see “Selectmen set agenda for May Town Meeting,” page 5) Any override of the tax levy limit must be approved both at Town Meeting on May 5 and at Town Election on May 13.
Also meeting on March 11, the Regional School Committee (RSC) discussed the implications of the CCHS override. Chair Michael Fitzgerald told the committee that he was very concerned about a backup plan should the override vote fail. If it does not pass, the towns would have different budgets for the high school. At that point, the RSC can vote on a new budget or decide to keep the old one. Since Carlisle makes up 28% of the student body, a $251,000 reduction from Carlisle would equate to an $892,000 reduction of the high school budget. “To reduce the non-mandated portion of the RSD budget by $900,000 would be devastating to the program,” Fitzgerald said. He pointed out that $90,000 less was being spent on regular education and administration in the FY09 budget than in the FY08 budget. “We can’t continue to cut regular education. We will not have the program we have now.” RSC member Jan McGinn asked about the other possible Carlisle overrides, one for the Carlisle Public Schools and one for the town employees. Fitzgerald explained that the $492,000 that was originally requested by the schools was reduced to about $200,000 of Tier 1 critical needs. Of that sum, $80,000 is to be moved from the Long-Term Capital allocation for school computers and $45,000 from Free Cash (See “Carlisle School budget gets a boost” page 1) He noted that the Carlisle School would lose a number of aides and stipends.
McGinn asked how the RSC could help. Fitzgerald said the decision had just been made so he would be spreading the word. McGinn added, “Call on us when you need us.”
The two towns must be in agreement on the high school budget. If there is a mismatch in what is approved by the two towns, then a joint town meeting may be necessary to resolve the difference. Carlisle with less than one-third the population of Concord is at a disadvantage at any joint town meeting. Fitzgerald mentioned that the towns had come close to that scenario six years ago.
RSC member Jerry Wedge asked what was being done for next year or the year after. Fitzgerald replied that he hoped by going for an override, the full amount of the CCHS budget would be incorporated into the tax base for next year, lessening the pressure for a future override. ∆
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