Milford schools seek 1.786 increase

Milford’s Board of Education Chair, Susan Glennon, has submitted a recommended 2018-2019 budget proposal, calling for a 1.786 percent increase over the current fiscal year that she said “reflects a carefully considered, collaborative effort by the superintendent, her staff and the Board of Education.”

“We feel this budget strengthens and deepens student learning while honoring the board’s district priorities and goals as well as the budget priorities and assumptions we annually agree upon,” continued Glennon. “The funding will help us deliver a relevant and engaging education to every child in the district, with a focus on both the emotional and educational needs of our students.”

School Superintendent Elizabeth E. Feser, earlier submitted the proposed budget to the Board of Education writing, “In developing the budget, much time, thought and care were given to the task. All of us involved in its development were conscious of the need to be fiscally responsible so that the financial burden on the community would be minimized. We were also conscious of the state’s ongoing financial crisis and potential implications for state aid to education. At the same time, we sought to sustain and strengthen programs and supports aimed at providing a quality education to every child.”

Contributing to the creation of the proposed budget were the five central office leaders, along with input from district and building administrators and the Director of Facilities. Five key beliefs helped guide the development of the newly comprised budget plan, explained Feser: Student learning and high achievement of all students are of the utmost importance, in educating children, the whole child must be considered, school safety and security are essential in every building and across the district, professional learning for administrators and teachers must be ongoing, and the needs of individual buildings must be recognized as they differ between and among schools.

The top three budget priorities noted are student learning, security and climate and facilities/other. Significant highlighted line items include student learning (1.0 FTE World Language Grade 6 Expansion $60,000, Civic and Global Engagement Pathway $0, Curriculum Writing $75,000, Restructuring Enrichment Program $22,772), security and climate (school resource officer $40,000, security enhancements $27,000), facilities/other (.5 FTE custodian $20,331, Asset Inventory and Management System $77,000, Girls Ice Hockey $4800). Budget requests total $326,903.

Savings (total of the major areas of savings and reductions amounts to $596,649), staff reductions of 3.0 FTE Teaching Positions (due to declining enrollment expected to generate $180,000 - no layoffs will occur due to attrition), utilities (projected net savings in utility costs of $71,754), transportation (expect to realize a net savings of $78, 640), other support (reduction of $99,717), educational supplies (reduction of $63,464), and equipment, furniture and computers (projected savings of $103,074).

Jim Richetelli, school board Chief Operating Officer said, “The budget that the Superintendent proposed and the budget that the BOE ultimately forwarded to the city is a frugal budget that takes into account economic times, especially with the state budget crisis. At the same time, it addresses the needs of the school system and sustains the programs that we have in place and also allows us to also do some minor enhancements of programs. All in all I think the board did a tremendous job in vetting the superintendent’s proposed budget and made some minor, yet significant changes. We feel very good about the budget that we are sending to the city for consideration. The increase we are seeking would be of 1.786%.”

“We would like to offer World Language to the 6th grade which would be the addition of one teacher,” added Richetelli. “We would like to restructure our Enrichment Program and put it into one central location which requires busing (a location has not been chosen), we have requested an additional $40,000 for one more School Resource Officer, $27,000 for additional security enhancements, we want to purchase an Asset Inventory Management System so we can categorize all of the assets throughout the district, and our girls participate in a co-op hockey team with Notre Dame High and the cost for the girls team members has been higher than the cost for the boys team members so we would like to add some money into the budge to equalize what both the boys and the girls pay.”

“We have also identified lots of areas of savings to help offset some of those costs,” continued Richetelli. “We have identified $71,000 in utility savings largely because we are installing solar power on seven of our 14 schools, we have identified $78,000 in savings in transportation, other support - we’ve reduced $99,000 and in the equipment, furniture and computers we’re reducing $103,000.”

Glennon explained, “The board did make two changes to the superintendent’s funding request. The first is our buildings projects. Our school buildings are aging and tired. The board chose to increase funding for building projects.” Secondly, “The board made a minor increase in funding for student athletes so the girls hockey (team members) will pay the same as the boys next year.”

Feser noted, “The budget brought before you is about sustaining and simultaneously strengthening the school system. We took much care to contain costs while maintaining support to deepen our instructional program, provide support for curriculum writing, keep our schools safe and meet other financial obligations. We wish to continue to strengthen the Milford Public Schools as measured by the quality of its educational program and student performance.”