School Superintendent Laurie Hunter. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Finance Committee weighs in on budgets for Concord and its schools  

By Betsy Levinson
February 22, 2024

  Members of the Finance Committee drilled down into the school and town budgets last week as the Town Meeting articles came up for discussion.  

The committee’s guidelines allow for a 3.26% increase in town and school budgets for fiscal year 2025.  

On the town side, the FY25 operating budget meets the guideline, but for the regional high school, the bottom line is still slightly above, according to Superintendent Laurie Hunter’s figures.   

An updated FY25 budget request is $39,085,301, an increase of $1,274,203, representing a 3.37% increase over the FY24 budget.   

The Concord assessment is $23,150,489, which is a 3.8% increase. Carlisle’s assessment is $7,143,268, representing a 2.89% increase, exclusive of debt service payments.  

Figures show a slight decline in enrollment at the high school, while enrollment rose a bit for the middle and elementary schools.  

“It’s a juggling act,” Hunter said. ‘We’re still working on it. We haven’t figured out how to get where you are hoping.”  

Hunter’s slides showed a per pupil expenditure for FY22 of $24,823 at the regional school, ranking third behind Weston and Wellesley. The FY22 state average was $20,110.  

Article 23 covers the Concord Public Schools request for $46,602,943, a level that meets the Fincom guideline increase.  

The CPS per pupil spending for FY22 was $24,822.  

Hunter’s office noted that teaching and instructional support costs rose 4.3% this year while out-of-district tuitions fell by almost 73%.  


Fincom Chairman Parashar Patel assembled slides noting trends for the schools. He said while enrollment is declining for the high school, the MCAS and SAT scores are in the “mid to low range.”  

“Two-thirds of the total budget is education,” said Patel. “We want to make sure we are getting value for that money.”  

Patel said test data shows that while the school system has “some of the highest spending per pupil,” and teacher salaries are among the highest of comparable districts, the latest K-8 MCAS scores are “below average” and SAT scores at the high school are “mid-range” compared to peer district scores.  

Hunter said budget “risks” include expenses not budgeted related to the homeless population, teachers’ salary increases determined via contract negotiations, and “unanticipated issues related to the new Middle School project.”  

Under Article 24, CPS has submitted a capital budget warrant article for $446,000 to improve the Thoreau School grounds, replace the Alcott School fire alarm system, and replace the 20-year-old dump truck.  

Town operating budget meets guideline   

Town Manager Kerry Lafleur submitted a budget for FY25 for general government at $32,745,639, representing a 3.26% increase. The joint accounts, town and schools, total $26,928,826, with a FY25 town government operating budget of $59,674,465.  

Preliminary estimates for state aid, or cherry sheets, are projected to be $6,786,944.  

Pre-Town Meeting hearings  

Public hearings on the town and school budgets will be held Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in the Hearing Room of the Town House.