Milford superintendent unveils $87M school budget

MILFORD — Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Feser is proposing an $87.10 million budget for fiscal 2012-13, which reflects a $1.6 million spending hike, or 1.92 percent increase.

Feser called the budget proposal the lowest requested increase by percent presented by a school administration here in more than a decade, but she said it will still propel the school system forward academically.

She said her budget is “responsible” to both taxpayers and students.

“We really looked for savings,” Feser said. “We need to be responsible at the start of the budget. It would be irresponsible to come with a really high budget. The fact that it comes in at under 2 percent is great.”

Feser said the budget eliminates 12 teaching positions, for a savings of $628,486. Most of the reductions will come through attrition, and Feser said she hopes very few jobs will be lost. The school system’s enrollment is expected to drop by 100 students next year, and more than a 1,000 over the next decade.

The budget was complicated by the loss of $550,000 in federal funds, which paid 12 teachers’ salaries.

School officials also are budgeting for $225,000 in energy savings due to the anticipated work of James Whitaker, the district’s energy coordinator. Another factor in the budget increase request being lower than in the past is teachers next year will receive a 2.5 percent raise with no step increases, Feser said.

The budget proposal includes “significant” instructional changes and several additional programs, which Feser stressed were all offset financially through reductions elsewhere.

The district will dissolve 14 coordinator positions and replace them with five administrative/supervisor positions. The current coordinators, who are part-time teachers, will return to the classroom full time.

The new administrators will oversee districtwide in math, science and technical arts, media services and technology, and socialstudies/world language.

The fifth position, supervisor of student development, will serve as the district’s Safe School Climate Coordinator, which is required by the state’s new anti-bullying legislation.

All five administrators will work with teachers in the classroom and evaluate staff. Each of the five administrators will earn $120,000 a year.

The school board is scheduled to vote on Feser’s budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Parsons Government Center.