The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 30, 2009

Carlisle School trims current budget, signs new bus contract

In response to a belt-tightening request by the Board of Selectmen to all boards and departments, the Carlisle School has cut over $178,000, or about 2%, from a total FY09 budget of about $8.94 million.

Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle presented the cuts to the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on January 21. The amount included unanticipated reductions in utility costs and Special Education contractual obligations, as well as spending cuts for educational supplies, professional memberships and postage.

Selectmen Doug Stevenson thanked Doyle, and CSC member Bill Fink noted, “The only way we were able to do this is because Marie [Doyle] and Heidi [Zimmerman, Carlisle School Business Manager,] froze expenses” last fall. The CSC voted to accept the reduced spending plan.

New bus contract

Zimmerman informed the School Committee that only one company, the incumbent, has submitted a bid for a bus contract, though four companies showed preliminary interest. The new three-year contract with Bedford Charter, Inc., will cost $386,460 and includes an extension clause for two additional years. The current three-year contract totals $402,260, not including fuel adjustments.

The new contract covers FY10, FY11 and FY12, and is written for seven buses, with an option to raise or lower that number. In addition, for the first time the contract includes an option to have a flexible number of buses for each middle school or elementary run. The buses normally make two runs in the morning and two in the afternoon; picking up middle school students first, and an hour later picking up the elementary students. Zimmerman later explained that often the middle school students take the elementary bus in the afternoon, leaving the middle school buses partially empty.

While the new contract includes a $5,000 increase per bus to roughly $55,000 per bus, the number of buses is reduced from eight to seven, holding the cost roughly equivilent to the current contract, not including fuel adjustments. Zimmerman had previously estimated an increased cost of up to $60,000 per bus.

Contacted later, Zimmerman explained that the new contract maintains the current status with regard to seat belts. There are no seat belts for students on the school buses. However, both old and new contracts state that seatbelts will be installed if the law is changed to require them. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito