Friday, September 11, 2009
Carlisle School Committee studys budget, administration changes
Safety and good health habits were the focus of the first day of school, the Carlisle School Principals told the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) at their September 2 meeting. “We held assemblies for the middle school,” explained Middle School Principal Joyce Mehaffey. “An officer came in to talk about safety helmets” for bikes, and David Flannery, Director of Buildings and Grounds presented information on evacuations. “It was a positive start,” she said. Elementary Principal Patrice Hurley said she met with staff members to discuss allergies, cleanliness and safety during lunch and recess. She said the new families “appreciate the smallness of Carlisle.”
In response to a question from the CSC about procedures to deal with H1N1 influenza, Superintendent Marie Doyle said she will be participating in a conference call focusing on the state’s policy regarding schools and the virus. Though the school does not have an official policy yet, she explained, “We tell parents to keep kids home for 24 hours after the fever has passed. We are waiting to hear if the vaccine will be administered from schools.”
• President’s educational address. Parents Alex and Julia Krapf expressed their concern about having students watch President Obama’s address to students on Tuesday, September 8. Mehaffey said “at this point” there were not plans to have students watch the broadcast.
• Technology. Salemy asked if the teachers felt they had enough portable computer carts and electronic whiteboards. Currently the school has 27 electronic whiteboards. Doyle said teachers who have requested a whiteboard have them.
• Supplies and budgeting. “I heard recently that teachers purchase supplies themselves with their own money,” said committee member Bill Fink. He expressed concern that the teachers do not have enough funds for supplies. “Traditionally teachers have purchased things,” agreed Doyle, though they are not required to. “The [Carlisle Education Fund] CEF has donated $100 to each teacher each year for supplies. The teachers need tools do to a better job,” but the funding focus is staff, not supplies, she said. Doyle maintains a wish list of supplies.
“A lot of people don’t know what you and your staff were able to do” regarding the budget, said Salemy. He said other towns have had to cut teachers. “In Sudbury the MCAS test came back, with class sizes of 30, and the scores were down.” He said forming the budget was hard but the class sizes were kept low.
• District Goals draft. Doyle presented the 2009 – 2010 District Goals: 1. Provide a rich curriculum in order to maximize student learning; 2. Build a community of respect in a safe and healthy learning environment; 3. Integrate technology; 4. Meet space needs and manage the resources of the Carlisle Public Schools; 5. Develop effective teacher evaluation tools. Details of the goals will be available on the school’s website, www.carlisle.k12.ma.us.
• School Committee goals. The CSC made a first pass on goals for the school year. Included are goals such as reducing the number of meetings, supporting the school building project, developing the school budget, finalizing a contract with the teachers and reviewing the administrative structure at the school. The committee will discuss the goals at the next meeting.
Fink suggested having school administrators attend one meeting each month instead of both meetings. Chair Chad Koski agreed. “I don’t see how we can cut to one meeting a month but we could cut back on administrators.”
Salemy said his goal was to “keep the budget flat without cutting any teachers. If we have to let one teacher go because of the budget I’ll think I failed.”
• Regionalization. The committee briefly discussed increased regionalization. Salemy said it was “beyond the scope of this committee.” Fink said it appeared regionalization would “increase our costs.” Chad said it would be a town decision, not a school committee decision. “It has to come from Town Hall. It is not for us to do.”
• Consolidate administrative functions. Last spring consultants from The New England School Development Council, (NESDEC), while investigating a possible Superintendency Union with Concord, suggested a cost savings by combining some of the administrative functions at the Carlisle School. Salemy said the original consultants have “all the data” and he would like to have them further develop the recommendation. “It would be quick, they know the people here. The cost would be under $5,000,” he said.
“I have strong feelings about this,” said CSC member Wendell Sykes. “I see no need for a consultant.” Sykes felt it was the job of the superintendent to manage the administrators. “We ask the superintendent to look into it.”
“I agree management is the job of the superintendent,” replied Koski. He said it was a difficult situation and he felt it would be good to explore every avenue to keep costs down. Fink suggested Doyle work with the consultants. “I’m happy to work with the consultants,” replied Doyle. “I can listen, and see what is working in other places.” Koski said the committee will make a decision whether or not to hire a consultant at the next meeting.
• No business manager. A replacement has not yet been hired for former Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman, who left in the spring. Doyle, Business Assistant Susan Pray and Assistant to the Superintendent Claire Wilcox are sharing the business management tasks. The CSC discussed what kind of oversight will be needed during the school building process and whether the new town administrator could step in to provide oversight. Salemy suggested a part-time business manager could be hired.
• Teacher promotions. Five Carlisle teachers have received professional teacher status (formerly called “tenure”), announced Doyle. The five teachers and their 2009 – 2010 assignments are: Cheryl Hay (7th grade language arts), Dan Hunt (physical education), Jody Kelly (2nd grade), Brad Cranston (7th grade science) and Kendra Katz (5th grade). Traditionally, professional status is assigned after three years of service. A teacher who has professional status is a permanent member of the teaching staff, while teachers who have not received professional teacher status are notified by June 14 whether they will continue at the school for the following year.
• School Council. The CSC voted the yearly reauthorization of the School Council, as mandated by law. The council is led by a school principal along with a co-chair, while other council members include parents, teachers and community representatives. A primary task of the school council is to annually develop a school improvement plan. The Carlisle School Association will hold elections for the parent representatives, the number of which must match the number of teacher representatives. Community representatives may be appointed and may be no more than half the total number of members. Parent Alex Krapf suggested giving the job of examining the school’s administrative structure to the School Council.
• Nichols Foundation grant. The committee voted unanimously to accept a grant of $4,000 from the Nichols Foundation. The donor requested that the grant be used to provide refreshments for the teachers’ rooms and that the remainder be used at the discretion of the school. Doyle stated that the discretionary amount would be spent on literacy.
• The committee adjourned to executive session to discuss contract negotiations. ∆
Carlisle School September Enrollment
(Includes preschool and out-of-district students)
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