Friday, February 6, 2009
Finance Committee meeting shorts, January 26
• Carlisle School wants two new positions. At the January 26 Finance Committee (FinCom) meeting, Superintendent Marie Doyle requested two positions, a psychologist costing $95,737 and an ELA/Literacy specialist at $44,000, be added to the Carlisle School FY10 budget. As that budget is at the levy limit, these would have to be financed through an override vote at Town Meeting in May. Doyle said the school expects an increase in special needs students and the addition of a psychologist with training in autism would provide management of a wider range of behavioral issues and, perhaps, keep more students in the school. In addition, more testing could be done in-house, saving $5,000 to $10,000 per test. “This is a cost-effective model, as well as good for kids,” she said. The ELA specialist would provide improved focus on literacy (see page 6).
• Override(s) considered. The FinCom is reviewing all FY10 budgets with the goal of making a recommendation on possible overrides to the Board of Selectmen. The regional School Committee is expected to request $80,000 over the levy limit for the high school, and another $50,000 in requests is likely from town departments. With the $140,000 request from CPS, some questioned whether voters would support a $250,000 to $300,000 override. “I’ve got serious doubts about any override,” said FinCom member Thornton Ash.
Finance Director Larry Barton noted the override last year was $151,000 “and it passed by only a handful of votes.”
• FY09 budgets may need cuts. Half way through the FY09 budget year, the FinCom is concerned that possible cuts in state funding will put budgets out of balance. The Reserve Fund is depleted due to expenditures for snow and ice removal. All departments were asked to submit suggestions for reducing budgets. The FinCom selected $234,000 in items and forwarded them to the Selectmen for review. Sunday’s Boston Globe noted that the governor’s recommendation would mean a preliminary 1.9% cut in state aid for Carlisle, or $26,605 out of the $1,425,327 expected in FY09.
• FY09 spending predictions questioned. After the $230,000 in potential FY09 cushion was delineated, the FinCom’s Dave Guarino asked, “If people see we can identify this much in cuts without much work, why vote for an override?” Chair Dave Model observed that it was impossible last spring to predict falling energy costs or to accurately pinpoint Special Education costs or how many teachers would use unemployment benefits. He added that $230,000 is only 1% of the budget, “We’re running a big ship, and I don’t think that’s that far off.” He suggested the FinCom continue to hold mid-year reviews in future as the exercise was valuable.
• Highland operating expenses. It was noted that the budget for operating expenses for the Highland Building will have to be transferred along with the building if it leaves the Carlisle School budget. According to the School Committee’s Wendell Sykes, the building “must be kept at a minimum temperature to prevent severe deterioration.” Even if mothballed, that situation would probably not change and a budget would be needed each year to provide heat. ∆
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