The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 21, 2008

RSC hones CCHS budget for next year

The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) compared the Preliminary Needs budget with the leaner 4%-growth recommended by the Concord Finance Committee (see “CCHS looks at 4 to 6% budget growth next year,” Mosquito, November 14.) They also discussed a list of new initiatives they would consider if additional funds were available.

Wish list examined

RSC member Peter Fischelis lamented that neither budget included the following identified needs: 0.5 full-time-equivalent (FTE) Technology Specialist, 0.25 FTE theater teacher, 0.25 FTE TV production elective, 0.25 FTE dance elective, a campus monitor, and intramural soccer program and 0.25 FTE English Language Learner (ELL) teacher. These would cost about $136,000.

Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS) Principal Peter Badalament spoke about the list. He noted that for years there was not enough space for an intramural soccer program. “Now we have new fields.” He felt a Technology Specialist would be helpful, “There are lots of new technologies in CCHS, but there’s no one to help develop the use of those new technologies.” He would also like to see expanded electives in the areas of theater, dance and TV production. “Drama production is strong at this school. And, there are a lot of jobs in media.” He would like to give students more experience in this area. In addition, “Dozens of students dance outside school. It would be a benefit to the student body” to have more dance electives.

Badalament reminded the RSC that the school used to have two school monitors. These are people who check that underclassmen are not leaving campus without permission, among other duties. “We need another campus monitor. I would like to see an increase back to two.”

Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Operations John Flaherty and the RSC then discussed possible cuts in staff. A Health Curriculum Specialist who supported both the Concord Public Schools and the RSD will be retiring and will not be replaced. Other cost-cutting possibilities are: reducing radio station staff, reducing co-curricular stipends by 10%, losing one FTE in the Guidance Department, cutting clerical support, reducing the professional development budget and cutting the athletic budget.

Badalament said user fees would have to be increased if the athletic budget was cut. Otherwise all freshmen sports would be eliminated. Scrimmages and some away games might also be reduced. If user fees were increased from $125 per sport to $200 per sport, the increased revenue would cover roughly 75% of the proposed athletic cut. Currently, the CCHS athletic fee of $125 per sport is one of the cheaper fees in the area. If a $200 fee were imposed, that would put CCHS fees in the average range for the area. Co-curricular activities with a low participation rate may also be cut. RSC Chair Jerry Wedge said, “If we take these away, we reduce opportunities to students.”

If the professional development budget is cut, Badalament said it would be harder to send teachers to workshops and conferences. Funding for curricular and course development during the summer would also decrease.

Flaherty explained that the teacher contract normally restricts teachers to 90 students, though that might be pushed to 95 if the regional school district can demonstrate that tight economic conditions exist.

RSC member Pam Gannon asked if the cuts in the supplies and materials budget were sustainable. Badalament replied, “We can’t do it forever. It limits the cyclic textbook replacement.” Flaherty added that there is significant concern about supplies of consumable materials used in photography and science. Badalament concurred, “We are starting to feel some of that impact.”

The RSC is concerned about how much state aid will be cut. In FY08, state aid was increased mid-year. Flaherty hopes to use this for FY10 cuts and he hopes it will not be needed for a possible mid-year aid cut. Both the Preliminary Needs Budget and the 4%-growth budget kept state aid at the same level as last year, even though all agreed that state aid may drop. Estimates of the decrease range around 10-20%, but RSC member Louis Salemy warned the RSC that the State as no idea at this time how much of a decrease there will be. “My concern is that every year we need to make cuts. Schools need money to sustain themselves.”

The RSC plan to adopt a budget by the second week in December. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito