The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 24, 2008

Carlisle School looks ahead at finances

At the October 15 Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman reported that next year’s school budget will see a 6.9% increase.

The CSC has requested the development of a three-year budget and Zimmerman discussed the assumptions she is making in order to develop a long-range forecast. She projects increases in utility costs will include a 5% rise in natural gas and 3% to 5% rise in electricity. A new operator contract will be in place for the school’s wastewater treatment facility which, she said, will include some percentage of increase in cost. She expects bus transportation costs may rise between 10% - 30% depending on the contract being developed this year, and special education bus transportation may increase by 5%.

The teachers’ contract expires in June and the terms of the new contract will have a significant impact on the school budget. The new contract is in the process of being negotiated.

For planning purposes she is assuming the school will maintain five administrator positions and a reduction in teaching staff by two positions to coincide with the enrollment decline by the end of the three year period. She is also assuming no new initiatives will be developed.

Committee member Bill Fink noted that an additional $80,000 was added to this year’s school budget from Long- Term Capital Requirements funds in order to support teacher salaries. Fink wondered if the budget growth would actually come in less than 6.9% if the additional $80,000 was factored into the final FY09 school budget. “Was our budget adjusted by that amount?” he asked. Superintendent Marie Doyle said she would discuss it with the Finance Committee.

CSC member Wendell Sykes commented that requests this year for funds for capital projects are ten times higher than “what we can expect from the town” financially. “It’s easier to defer maintenance than to layoff people,” he said, but noted it is important that essential maintenance is being done. “Pushing off maintenance can be costly,” said Chad Koski. “It bites us later,” agreed Sykes.

Regional high school costs

CSC member Louis Salemy, who is also a member of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee, said the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) regional budget was presented to the Concord Selectmen and CCHS is projected to have a 6% increase. Carlisle’s portion of the high school budget increase is expected to be $256,000. Concord’s projected revenue growth is 4%, in contrast to Carlisle’s almost flat revenue forecast.

Question 1

In a related issue, Carlisle School Teachers’ Association President and Social Studies teacher Michael Miller made a short presentation to the CSC regarding Question 1 on the November ballot to repeal of the Massachusetts state income tax. He noted that in FY09 the Carlisle School received $852,000 in state aid for general education. If Question 1 passes, he said, “There will be some hard choices” in what cuts would need to be made, and he speculated that property taxes may be raised in response to the loss in state funding. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito