Friday, February 13, 2009
Let’s take the necessary time
To the Editor:
While I very much appreciate the initiative of the School Committee in bringing forth the consideration of a combination of the administrative functions of the Carlisle Public Schools with those of the Concord Schools, I find myself very concerned regarding the pace and process that I have observed thus far in this consideration.
This is a significant change for both the school and the town. In many ways it touches on the essence of what Carlisle is and will be in the future. I believe we owe it to the citizens, the current and future students, the parents and the school employees to take the time and effort to thoroughly understand the potential impacts of this decision before we proceed with implementation. The decision that will be made will affect generations of Carlisle students and citizens.
I believe that we should target the fall of 2010 as the earliest potential date to implement such a change. This will give us the opportunity to examine and understand the important impacts of such a decision. I believe the following should be explored:
1) A thorough study of the financial impacts of a combination should be produced and discussed in detail with the Concord officials. There should be agreement and consensus on the savings that will occur for each town. This should include the specific administration functions that might be replaced or shared and projections of future operating expenses that might be anticipated given the change.
2) A review should be undertaken regarding the educational program or emphasis changes that we might see with such a combination. Both systems are excellent but they are slightly different. We should understand what educational impact a combination would have for Carlisle.
3) We should review in some detail how the administrative processes will change. This should include an understanding of the budgeting, control, facilities and administrative processes. Running a school is a complex endeavor and we should have a detailed understanding of process before this goes live.
4) Other potential options to reduce administrative expenses should be identified and considered. This will give us a broader basis on which to consider the impact of this change. A good idea gains consensus by comparing it to other approaches. There is no question that the School Committee has the authority and is the proper entity to ultimately make this decision. The experience that I have of over 20 years of public service in Carlisle (including time on both the School Committee and Board of Selectmen) suggests, however, that the committee should take the necessary time to consider this idea carefully and thoroughly. If we do get to implementation, we should all be together behind this plan. Our goals should be that the plan is in the best financial and educational interests of the town, and that we have a solid operational plan to make it work seamlessly. We owe that to the children and citizens.
While I currently serve as a Selectmen, these are my personal views. I do not speak for the Board as a whole.
Let’s make some hard decisions
To the Editor:
At the last School Committee meeting, I spoke to three concerns.
Two concerns were directly in regard to the superintendency union. First, due to our current administration’s hard work, measurable progress is being made in the schools and is reflected directly in our curriculums. Will these advances fade without the direction of our superintendent?
Secondly, regarding the role of the School Committee’s consultant, it should be not only to determine the financial and educational impact of a superintendency union, but also to offer us other options. Each option should be furnished with immediate and eventual consequences.
My final concern is for Carlisle’s economic state, which was both predictable and inevitable. Effective organizations don’t remain so on a flat budget. We have asked this of our town services for several years. They have been diminished to the point that further cuts pose major questions to their effectiveness. Carlisle needs to grow financially and our residential status places us in a precarious position. Relying solely upon residential growth is expensive, unreliable and unwise. One requires various forms of income to rely upon. The School Committee tries to make hard decisions and I commend them for their foresight, but ask, “Why is this falling solely upon their lap?” Carlisle needs to make hard decisions. We need more money and there are three ways to achieve this – raise taxes, grow business or merge with another town that has a developed economic base.
It was suggested that the schools need to unionize because unionizing other town departments would incur a reduction in our quality of life – slower police responses and delays in road plowing. Also noted was that Concord’s Superintendent has the expertise for effective administration of Carlisle Schools. I ask, “If we can count on Concord’s Superintendent to perform her job effectively and professionally, can we not expect this of their Police Department and their DPW as well?” Certainly, if unionized, the Concord Police Department would assign patrols here. Similarly, Concord’s DPW would hire enough plow trucks and prioritize roads appropriately. We would save on the administration costs. The integrity of Concord’s organizations need not be tainted without warrant.
Regarding growing business in Carlisle, a citizen offered a simple response, “Ferns.” His point is well taken and frustratingly amusing, but it is no excuse. Growing the business community would require substantial change.
Let’s make the hard decisions needed to remain a flourishing community and maintain our standing in the Commonwealth.
Consider different laptops
To the Editor:
The cover story on the Friday, February 6, Mosquito says that the FinCom is reviewing future capital outlays. One item under discussion was $80k per year for replacement of computers at the Carlisle School. The discussion included the assertion that this was insufficient because laptops break frequently... with the unspoken hint that the five-year replacement cycle budget needed growth?
I understand that laptops may be fragile, but perhaps Carlisle is not properly using laptops? In recent years, laptops have grown in size such that they offer displays the same size or even larger than some desktops. They are indeed expensive and their large sizes make them vulnerable to breakage. It seems to me that if the town is buying such laptops they should stop. A review of any Sunday morning newspaper’s electronics flyer reveals that very inexpensive and very powerful desktop computers can be purchased that drive very inexpensive large screen flat panel displays for very reasonable prices. Similarly, for cases where someone really needs a laptop, the “net-book” computers currently available for under $400 (some are currently on sale for under $300) offer all the computing power of larger machines in a truly portable and rugged configuration. Further, most of these net-books are capable of driving a full-scale desktop monitor. While not so rugged as to withstand truly careless misuse, their small size and solid-state memory devices greatly enhance robustness. I believe that one may have both a powerful desktop and one of these net-book devices for a combined price lower than commonly spent on large laptops.
Perhaps consideration for these more modern devices could help in a small way to reduce financial challenges facing the town?
To the Editor:
You say you missed the Ice Cappella performance at CCHS on January 30? So sorry. For me it was perhaps the best musical experience I have ever had. Our local kids are more uplifting than anything. Ooooooutstanding!
Youth Commision says thanks
To the Editor:
The Carlisle Youth Commission would like to thank all middle school families who generously donated non-perishable foods to The Open Table Food Pantry in Concord at this month’s Friday Night Live food drive. We collected approximately 100 items, which the pantry will distribute to families in need in local communities. The Open Table greatly appreciates your efforts.
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