The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 13, 2009

Carlisle School consultant to study merger plan

The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) announced it is requesting bids for a consultant to assist in the investigation of the proposed administrative consolidation with the Concord and Concord-Carlisle Public School system. The CSC is looking at forming a Superintendency Union with Concord in order to share administrative personnel with both the Concord and the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Districts. The consultant will be asked to research both the financial feasibility and the educational impact of the proposed merger, for a total cost not to exceed $10,000.

After CSC member Louis Salemy announced in February that a consultant had been chosen, the committee decided to allow competition for the contract. “We realized that because the expected cost of the consultant is greater than $5,000, we are required to solicit bids for the contract,” explained CSC Chair Chad Koski in an email. Bids between $5,000 and $25,000 do not have to be advertised, according to Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman, but the School Committee must solicit at least three quotes. The cost is being paid out of the current Carlisle School budget. The deadline for bids was March 11.

Committee member Bill Fink reported he and Louis Salemy met in February with Dr. Arthur Bettencourt of the New England School Development Council (NESDEC), of which Carlisle School is a member. NESDEC is a non-profit educational organization which offers services in planning, professional development, executive searches, research and development. The first meeting was with Concord School administrators and the second with Carlisle School administrators. “There was great information that we shared,” said Fink. Bettencourt was attending in an advising capacity only, noted Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle, though it may be possible that a consultant from NESDEC will be hired.

Financial study due April 30, decision expected by June 30

The consultant bid is constructed in two phases, explained Zimmerman. The first phase, according to the bid document, calls for a financial analysis to ascertain if potential savings “warrant further exploring the idea of a superintendency union.” The analysis is to include a look at “the potential increase and decline in cost savings over the next five years.” The first phase is expected to cost $5,000 and must be completed by April 30, giving the consultant just a little over a month to complete the financial evaluation.

The second phase, which will also cost $5,000, is an educational impact evaluation of the merger and will be done only if the first phase results in a positive review of the financial savings. The bid document says phase 2 is due by June 30 and it also states that the CSC expects to vote on the merger proposal by the end of June.

Scope of consolidation

In the first phase, the consultant will be asked to identify “positions to be eliminated, consolidated or added” at both school systems and detail both the cost savings and/or the additional costs the merger may bring. For example, eliminating some positions may mean hiring additional personnel in Concord. The bid notes that due to the daily tasks the Carlisle Assistant to the Superintendent performs, if that position is eliminated then “the Ripley administrative team will need to hire someone to replace this position.”

The positions that are to be reviewed are: Superintendent, Assistant to the Superintendent, Business Manager, Business Manager Assistant, Special Education Director, Special Education Assistant, Facilities Manager, Technology Support and School Psychologist. The bid document adds that the list “is not meant to be all inclusive and a description of other consolidation benefits that could be identified is required.”

Task migration study

One of the more important functions for the consultant is to list what services will be affected by the merger, where the tasks will be performed (either Concord or Carlisle), changes in administrative responsibilities, functions that might be transferred to the Carlisle Town Offices and the impact to the Town of Carlisle.

For example, at the Carlisle School the Director of Students Services attends each yearly Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting for every student. In Concord, notes the bid document, “it is the principals’ responsibility… to oversee the IEP.” The bid document notes the Carlisle Principals could possibly take on the function of overseeing the IEP process. By law at least one administrator capable of committing the district’s resources must be present at an IEP meeting.

The bid document also asks for a “cost analysis of the impact of having current in-house programs and services being outsourced.” For example, the responsibilities of Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds position may be transferred to the Concord School’s Facility Manager, which could impact how custodial services are delivered at the Carlisle School.

Effects on education

In the second phase the consultant is asked to review the educational impact of the merger. The consultant is to identify changes to regular and special education programs and staff, including impacts on the English Language Arts and Math curriculum review cycles and the technology instruction and support. For instance, periodic curriculum reviews are currently led by Carlisle teachers and staff. The consultant will study the impact of having the reviews led by non-Carlisle School personnel. such as the Concord Public Schools Curriculum Coordinators.

Timeline of implementation

Koski said if the superintendency union is feasible, it would not be put into place until the fall of 2010. Fink suggested the School Committee ask the Town Moderator for a short presentation time at the May Town Meeting to explain the goal of the merger. “That’s a good opportunity to explain what is going on,” agreed Koski. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito