Official: Milford schools closing budget gap, receiving addition federal funds

MILFORD — The city’s schools will receive more federal money than they expected, according to James Richetelli, the chief operations officer.

The city received just under $5.9 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, program, Richetelli told the Board of Education at its meeting this week. The total was about $49,000 more than he had anticipated, Richetelli said.

The ESSER 3 funding, from the third round of school relief grants, brings Milford up to a total of $8.2 million in federal aid this year, a slight increase from last month’s projections.

Through May 19, the schools had spent $3.1 million in COVID-19 related expenses, Richetelli said. The schools also closed the anticipated budget gap by about $178,000, from $1.3 million, to just over $1.1 million, he said.

“That’s really because we are coming to an end, and we can predict with good certainty where we are going to be five weeks from now with our expenses,” said Richetelli.

The budget also got a boost from the food service accounts, which have been increasing their revenue since students have returned to school, Richetelli said.

“Participation in the free breakfast and lunch programs grew since they have come back to school, especially during breakfast,” he said. “We really do believe that we’re inching closer to trying to bridge that gap altogether.”

Richetelli said the district’s food service director and her staff also “have become very creative on how we get food out to as many families who need it or want it.”

More than 700 students currently receive breakfast at school each day, Richetelli said. In previous years, that number was closer to 300 or 350, he said. That level of participation in the program has helped the food service program close its projected deficit from more than $170,000 to about $60,000.

“It’s really positive news because kids are getting a good meal in the morning, and every meal that we serve or give to a family, we get reimbursement from the federal government for it,” said Richetelli.

All of this news adds up to the schools likely not needing to ask for a special allocation to balance the 2020-21 budget, Richetelli said.

“We do believe, we know that we will be able to cover the deficit in the operating budget,” he said.