Milford schools' COVID expenses increased last month

Superintendent Anna Cutaia speaks to the Milford Board of Education during the board's April 26 meeting.

Superintendent Anna Cutaia speaks to the Milford Board of Education during the board’s April 26 meeting.

Zoom screen capture /

MILFORD — Returning to in-person learning full-time has increased costs, but the school system remains within budget for its COVID expenses, according to James Richetelli, the chief operations officer.

The schools have received $8.17 million from federal Coronavirus Relief Funds and Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief grants, Richetelli said at the April 26 school board meeting. Projected COVID-related expenses for the school year increased slightly in the past month, to $3.7 million, he said.

“That was expected when we went back to five days, we knew there would be added expenses,” he said.

In the past month, Richetelli said the schools have spent $223,663 on coronavirus-related expenses, about $129,000 more than the previous month, he said. The year-to-date expenditures are $2.76 million, he said.

“About $83,000 of the $129,000 that’s additional deficit this month is in the category of custodial temps, custodial overtime and hourly aids as well as another $13,000 under facilities for maintenance supplies,” he said.

The furniture and fixtures category also rose by $24,175. Richetelli said it was due to the purchase of 400 chairs and desks. These are to be used in school cafeterias, he said.

“We need individual tables to operate the cafeterias,” he said. “We can’t use the traditional cafeteria tables because of social distancing.”

But the expense is worth it because of the “people component” that is part of meal times, he said.

“We would rather have students eating in the cafeteria rather than eating in their classrooms,” he said.

Board Chair Susan Glennon asked if the desks could be reused or if they would be discarded after they are no longer needed. Richetelli said the desks were versatile enough to continue in use.

“We anticipate being able to use them in the future, they have chairs and a cutout flip-up desk, so we’ll be able to use them in the future,” he said.

Richetelli said they believe with the accumulated savings in the operating budget this year and the grant money that has come in so far, the schools would be able to cover their projected operating expenses. The food service account is projecting a $170,000 deficit due to students not being in schools, but. Richetelli said the schools would be working with the Milford Food 2 Kids program to serve food throughout the summer and that should reduce the deficit.

“That really is the bulk of the additional costs for this month,” he said.