The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 29, 2010

CCHS preliminary budget reviewed

Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations John Flaherty presented a preliminary planning budget with a 4.12% operating budget increase over last year when he spoke to the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) on October 26. This includes a 2.5% increase in the high school operating budget, as well as annual debt service and $250,000 to be set aside for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).

“OPEB is a new dimension for the [Regional School District] RSD,” said Flaherty. OPEB includes funds for future health care premiums for retirees. The Government Accounting Standards Bureau has been pushing districts and employers to begin setting aside funds for anticipated post-retirement expenses. Flaherty said that it was important to fund the liability of OPEB to protect current employees and to maintain a high AAA bond rating, particularly with a large school building project coming. “We need to demonstrate to bond services such as Moody’s that we recognize this liability and we are taking steps to meet that liability.”

RSC Chair Louis Salemy said, “I think it’s great that we are dealing with that [OPEB]. Our (RSD) debt rating is a function of three entities: the regional school district, the town of Concord and the town of Carlisle. It’s very important that the towns follow us.” Flaherty agreed.

Flaherty expects to start funding this liability with $250,000. Debt service is decreasing by 30% from roughly $1.127 million in FY11 to $785,000 in FY12. Flaherty thinks that with the large drop-off of debt, it is a good time to put away funds for OPEB.

In this preliminary planning budget the Special Education budget decreases by $300,000 due to a reduction in out-of-district placements. Energy and utilities will go up by about $63,000 in part due to the purchase of broadband. “We need more and more bandwidth to support all the technology,” said Flaherty.

Health insurance is expected to go up by 15%. Flaherty explained that the regional district is part of a Minuteman Nashoba Health Group which is a large pool.

New proposals

This planning budget includes some additions to accommodate identified needs: increasing the half-time technology specialist to a full-time position for $35,000, increasing a half-time science teacher to full-time for $32,000, adding a music lab supervisor for $18,000 and buying a school bus for $90,000. These needs cost a total of $175,000.

Flaherty also expects external funding to decrease. The planning budget has an estimate for federal funding of $513,000. This is a $230,000 decrease from $743,000 in the FY11 budget. State grants for METCO have been declining for a few years. In FY10, the METCO grant was $433,000. It is expected to be $362,000 in FY12. In total, external funding is expected to drop from $1,148,000 in FY11, equating to 4.7% of the budget, down to $899,000, or 3.6% of the budget in FY12.

Budget breakdown shifts

The preliminary planning budget shows regular education increasing by 4%, Special Education decreasing by 1.2%, administration costs increasing by 3%, operations increasing by 4.3% and fixed costs increasing by 2.1% with a total budget increase of 2.5%. With debt service included, the planning budget for FY12 has a 4.1% increase over the FY11 adopted budget.

The assessment ratio of Carlisle to Concord students is dropping from 30.27% to 29.61%. This will result in an estimated savings of roughly $138,000 for Carlisle.

Tax relief effects on education

RSC Chair Louis Salemy and RSC member Jerry Wedge spoke about the ballot questions in next Tuesday’s elections. Question 3 will ask voters to roll back the Massachusetts sales tax from 6.25% to 3.00%. One cent of the sales tax goes to fund the Massachusetts School Building Authority for school building projects. Salemy said that the impact on state aid to Carlisle and Concord education would be swift. “I urge you not to vote to repeal or lower the sales tax.” Wedge said, “If Question 3 passes, it will be devastating to our school budget and probably as importantly, our school building budget.” .∆

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