The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 2, 2008

Article 15 – RSC seeks support for CCHS override

[The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee explains why it is requesting $251,000 in additional funding over the guideline suggested by the Carlisle Finance Committee. The request must be approved by Town Meeting on May 5, under Warrant Article 15, and by voters at Town Election on May 13.]

The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) faced significant challenges in developing the FY09 budget. We project that the considerable increases in mandated special education costs which we experienced in FY08 will continue in FY09. In addition, due to the differing economic circumstances facing the towns of Concord and Carlisle, the Regional School District (RSD) received two different budget guidelines.

Late last summer the RSC learned of an $850,000 special education budget overrun. This overrun resulted from newly identified needs for out-of-district placements for some of our most challenged students. In order to cover the deficit without seeking additional appropriations from the member towns, the RSD implemented budget reductions, utilized surplus state aid accounts, and applied to the state for extraordinary relief. While we believe that the administration has done everything possible to limit the amount of these costs moving forward, we expect that they will continue into FY09.

This year the Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) recommended level funding the RSD budget at FY08 levels, while the Concord FinCom recommended a guideline which allowed operating expenses to increase by 3.7% and after recognizing reductions in district revenues, an overall operating budget increase of 5.3%. Citing budgetary pressures resulting from added special education costs, the RSD adopted a budget in line with the Concord FinCom guideline and as a result we seek approval of a Proposition 2 ½ override of approximately $251,000 in Carlisle.

The FY09 budget reflects an increase in operating spending of $726,000 (3.7%) over FY08. As a result of continued cuts in non-mandated and non-contractual obligations, budgetary spending on regular education will decline by $89,000 (-0.9%) from FY08. The budget for administrative and other costs will decline by $1,000 (0.0%) from FY08. The proposed budget for special education will rise by $816,000 (20.4%) over FY08. We project our district revenues will decline by $167,000 (-6.7%). The overall effect of these changes results in increasing the RSD operating budget by $893,000 (5.3%).

In accordance with the terms of the regional agreement, in order to reduce the assessment to Carlisle by $251,000, the RSD would need to reduce the total assessments to the two towns by $892,000. This would in turn return $641,000 to the town of Concord, which has already indicated they want the funds spent at CCHS. Reducing the assessments by $892,000 would require further budget cuts of over $1 million ($892,000 plus the unemployment costs associated with laying off employees). We believe that making this deep of a cut in regular education, administrative and other line items would decimate the program we offer to the students of our community.

We recognize and understand the budgetary challenges facing Carlisle this year. The RSC and the school administration have efficiently managed this budget and put forth a plan that works to limit additional financial pressure on Carlisle.

We ask for your support of Article 15 at the Carlisle Town Meeting and that you vote yes for the override at the Town Election on May 13.∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito