The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 2010

Carlisle School budget up 2.97%

Staff cut as enrollment falls

At the December 1 Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting Superintendent/Principal Joyce Mehaffey presented a draft FY12 Carlisle School budget of $9,274,945, which is a 2.97% increase over the FY11 budget. According to Mehaffey, budget drivers include an 8.9% increase in special education costs, including out-of-district tuition fees and a 4.2% increase in administration costs, including an approximately $25,000 increase in school committee legal fees in preparation for next year’s contractual negotiations.

Budget IncreasesDespite the largest budget increase since FY08, Mehaffey said reductions will have to be made to meet the bottom line. The budget includes cuts in teaching positions and clerical services. Positions such as technology support and specialists (music, art, foreign language, physical education) will see a reduction in hours. Table 1 shows the budget increases between FY06 to FY12, which veraged 2.85%.

Overall enrollment is projected to drop by 16 students. Average class sizes will vary between 14 and 24, depending on the grade (see Table 2). Grade 1 will be reduced to three sections, contributing to a slight rise in average class sizes for grades K to 3 from 16 to 17. Grade 3 will also be reduced to three sections.

Cut in hours, goal is to maintain programs

Hours for most specialists’ positions (three music teachers, three foreign language teachers, two art teachers and three physical education teachers) will be cut by 0.2 Full Time Equivalents (FTE). For instance, in the music department there are 3 FTEs, which will be reduced to 2.8 FTEs. The art department will have it’s 2 FTE’s reduced by 10% to 1.8 FTE. The technology specialist will be reduced by 30%. Mehaffey said reductions in specialists’ hours will help retain programs. “We have a need for fewer specialists,” said Mehaffey, because of the decline in enrollment. “We have not decreased the specialists in years,” she added. Hours for Literacy Specialist Susan Bober, and recently hired Math Specialist Alisa Steel will not be reduced. According to Mehaffey, Steel’s salary is partly funded by a Title I grant. Teachers whose hours are reduced can choose to leave school early, Mehaffey said. However some teachers have after school activities, for which they are paid stipends.

Special education costs rise

Director of Special Education Karen Slack said tuition costs for out of district students are rising. She noted that the tuition rates are set by the state and said, “We try to keep as many students as possible in the district, but there are some students who, because of needs, are educated in a different setting.” The number of out-of-district students has fallen from 17 in 2009 to nine in 2010, and eight in 2011.

Another reason costs have risen is because in the past the state reimbursed the town 75% of the eligible special education costs (called the “circuit breaker”). Starting with the FY10 school year the reimbursement was cut to 42.34%, with a further reduction to 40% this year.

However, the 8.9% SPED increase is misleading, explained Carlisle School Business Manager Susan Pray, because a portion of the FY11 out-of-district cost was prepaid last year and therefore was not included in this year’s (FY11) budget. She later explained that the school prepaid roughly $160,000 in FY11 tuition during FY10.

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito