The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 11, 2008

News

Carlisle School fees heading upward

New and higher school fees were proposed at the April 2 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC). New fees may be created for students in the band and chorus programs and facility- use fees may double in the near future. The proposed band and chorus fees will cover the cost of teacher stipends and the music used for evening rehearsals, Superintendent Marie Doyle explained to the CSC. The plan would raise sports participation charges by $10 and tuition for pre-kindergarten by about 5.5%, while other student fees would be held steady. A possible three-year phase-in period was considered for increases in facility-use fees. Discussions were held on whether to initiate a facility-use charge for the Carlisle Recreation Department.

Student fees

School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman provided information to the CSC on past and present school fees. This year the Carlisle Public School has collected approximately $164,000 in student fees. The school collected $54,000 in bus fees for seventh and eighth graders, almost $53,000 in kindergarten fees and $33,000 for athletic fees. This year 73 of the 75 kindergarten families paid for all-day kindergarten. Data for pre-kindergarten has not been finalized, but the school has collected $24,000 so far.

All ten tuition spots for next year’s Integrated Pre-K are filled, Director of Student Services Karen Slack said. This year there are just five tuition students in the program. The other ten slots are funded through a state grant for students with special needs.

A little over half, or 267 of about 500 families with children attending the Carlisle School, paid student fees this year, according to information provided by the school (not including pre-kindergarten.) The amount varies per family: approximately 52 families less than $200; 131 families paid between $200 and $600; another 72 paid between $600 and $1,000; and a dozen families paid over $1,000 in school fees. One family was charged $2,325.

Committee chair Nicole Burkel expressed concern that the increases are “heaping all the fees onto middle school families.” About three-fourths of seventh and eighth graders paid the $395 bus fee. The second child in a family is charged one half of the fee. Scholarships are available for students who receive free or reduced lunch, explained Doyle.

Facility use fees

Building and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery met with the CSC to discuss increases to the facility-use fees. Traditionally, school and town-affiliated programs serving Carlisle children have not been charged a fee to use the school. Other organizations have been charged a rate that varies, depending on what kind of space and assistance they require. The cost in energy consumption is a hidden burden to the school budget, Flannery explained. He noted that a three-year phase-in period was used in the 1990s when the fees were raised. Facility charges were last increased in 2000, he added.

Philip Drew of the Savoyards, speaking at the CSC meeting, said, “I would like to say I would be opposed to a higher fee.” It currently costs the Savoyards $30 an hour to rent the stage with the lights. By 2011 it could cost $60. He said he understood the school’s situation, but encouraged the committee to keep the increases at a minimum. “We have tried to keep our ticket prices low,” he explained. “We contribute to the cultural life of the town.” He noted that rental costs are a major factor for the Savoyards.

Flannery said the total facility income from local non-profit groups (such as the Boy Scouts) is around $6,000. The Savoyards also fall in that category, Flannery said. Drew pointed out the Savoyards pay the highest amount in that category, around $4,500.

By far the largest user is the Carlisle Recreation Department, which runs the “Summer Fun” camp, and uses the facility for after school and week-end activities. Flannery said he notified the RecCom about the CSC planned discussion, but did not hear from them. In the past the RecCom has made an “exchange of service” to pay for the facility use, such as donating basketball equipment for the gym, said Flannery. Committee member Dale Ryder noted the RecCom operates “on a shoe string” and what they do “is for the kids.” Selectman Douglas Stevenson, wondering if the Celebrations Committee would be charged, noted it would be unusual to charge one town department to pay another town department. Zimmerman and Flannery are planning to meet with the RecCom to discuss facility usage.

The School Committee will hold further discussion on the fees, Doyle said in an e-mail. “No decisions have been made and no vote has been taken. It will probably take a few meetings as this topic always brings a plethora of conversations,” she explained. “The School Committee will gather information, discuss, listen, discuss and then vote.”

Carlisle School Student Fees

Current Proposed

Fee Type FY08 FY09

Transportation $ 395 $ 395

Kindergarten $ 775 $ 775

Varsity Sports $ 175 $ 185

Junior varsity sports $ 85 $ 95

Intramurals $ 55 $ 55

Pre-K $4,500 $4,750

Band/Choir $ 0 $ 55


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