The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 14, 2008


Carlisle School budget gets a boost

$125,000 more for FY09, $50,000 extra found for FY08

The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) agreed on March 5 to accept an FY09 funding level of $125,000 above this year’s school budget and the no-growth guideline originally recommended by the Finance Committee (FinCom). The additional funds will include $80,000 in funds originally earmarked for school technology upgrades and $45,000 from the town’s Free Cash. The budget is $356,000 short of the “level service” amount requested by the school.

CSC Chair Nicole Burkel asked Don Rober, of the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee (LTCRC), if he wished to comment on using the Long-Term Capital (LTC) allocation for the school’s operating budget. He said, “This was an acceptable idea if the School Committee and the school administration feel that $80,000 in particular would be better spent for the education of the kids this time… rather than computers.”

School considers which cuts to restore

Burkel thanked Rober and asked Superintendent Marie Doyle and Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman to come back to the committee with their recommendations on the use of the $125,000 “in terms of what we are going to restore” to the budget. (See also “Carlisle School contract talks may reduce teacher layoffs,” page 1.)

A list of possible cuts presented by Doyle to the Finance Committee on January 23 included the following teachers’ positions in Tier 1: elementary world language, Grade 6, language arts specialist and technology integration. Tier 1 items totaled $215,314 and were to be reinstated first as additional funding became available. Lower priority items were listed in Tiers 2 - 6. A modified list of cuts, dated February 26, is available on the school’s web site: Tier 1 still included teachers for elementary world language and Grade 6 and the language arts specialist, but the technology integration teacher was moved down to Tier 2. Added to Tier 1 were an aide for $27,842 and a “webmaster” for $2,743. The total for Tier 1 was reduced by about $25,000.

Funding tech upgrades $50,000 available

FinCom member Thornton Ash noted that as the number of computers and other equipment at the school increases, it becomes difficult to keep the technology up to date “with the present financial situation.” Audience member Alex Krapf said the upkeep costs are “totally predictable” and should be factored into growth in the technology.

Burkel said there were potentially other sources to replace technology this year, including the Carlisle Education Foundation and the Carlisle School Association. Parent Mary Storrs said she “appreciated the creative financing that fell out of the sky,” but said they were “taking it out of my left pocket to pay for the right.” As a donor to CEF, she said, she feels she is in effect donating to the LTC budget instead.

Doyle said they were planning to reduce other spending in order to use money available in the current year’s budget to fund some technology upgrades. “We’re looking to shut our budget down early.” In a later e-mail, Doyle explained that when the budget is “shut down” the school would “spend only on critical items and mandated costs such as energy. This could free up money that could be used for computers.”

Doyle also told the meeting of the town finance team on March 11 that because an out-of-district special education placement did not work out, $50,000 has been freed within the current budget that may be used for computers.

Potential lay-offs

From the audience, Steve Herbst expressed concern at the CSC meeting about the potential that technology specialist Cyd McCann and literary specialist Steve Bober might be laid off due to budget cuts. He has spoken to them and liked their plans to use the Internet and computers to “help the kids write better and think better.” He asked for advice in organizing a request for a budget override to save the teachers’ positions. CSC member Michael Fitzgerald suggested he speak to Doyle. An override must be approved by voters in order to exceed the tax levy limit set by the state legislation known as Proposition 2 1/2. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito