Milford superintendent seeks $102 million for 2022-23 school year

Milford School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia

Milford School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia

Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

MILFORD — With an eye toward meeting student and staff needs in the face of the pandemic, school officials are proposing a $102 million budget for the coming fiscal year, according to Superintendent Anna Cutaia.

Cutaia presented the budget proposal —which calls for a 2.28 percent increase over the present year’s $99 million school budget —to the Board of Education Monday.

“The budget advocates for the needs of the students and staff and also represents a multi-year response to the impact of the pandemic virus,” said Cutaia in a letter to the board members. “There are contractual obligations we have to meet before we can start considering program investments and savings.”

The most significant contractual obligation is the salaries and benefits, which comprise 77.32 percent of the school’s overall budget, from $70 million in this year’s budget to $72 million for 2022-23.

One of the reasons for an increase in the salaries, Cutaia said, was a response to the needs created by the pandemic. There was an increase of $51,846 for additional elementary building substitutes, $65,968 for additional cafeteria aids, and the schools budgeted $76,225 for an anticipated rise in retirements due to pandemic-related reasons.

A different but important contractual obligation is the increase of utilities, a budget item in which Cutaia said is anticipated to jump 20 to 25 percent. One of the reasons, she stated, is the increase in the use of exhaust fans due to the pandemic.

“More concerning is the increase in natural gas costs. Due to global issues related to supply shortages and changing energy policies,” she said. “The increase in natural gas costs is projected to be $170,173 more than last year.”

The increase in transportation for both regular and special education is another key factor in the contractual obligations and rising costs, increasing the fuel budget to $221,460.

However, Cutaia said even though the contractual obligations add up to around $1.9 million, it has not stopped the officials from prioritizing and moving the school district forward.

Cutaia said they did have to reprioritize the improvement efforts due to the pandemic.

The list includes the implementation of new sixth through eighth grade English Language Arts curriculum, expanding elementary World Language to include Pre-K 4 and fourth grade, revising sixth grade to twelfth-grade social studies curriculum, and purchasing Foran High School cardio equipment and more.

Additionally, the proposed budget also touches on the projected enrollment for the 2022-23 school year.

All together, the district is projecting a loss of 67 (5,291) students in the 2022-23 school year compared to the 2021-22 school year when the enrollment was at 5,358 across all schools.

At the Pre-K level, MPS is projecting a nine student decrease from 228 to 219. At the elementary school level, the projection is a loss of four students from 2,240 to 2,236. MPS projects a 26 student decrease at the middle school level from 1,243 to 1,217 and a 28 student decrease at the high school level from 1647 to 1619.