School board cuts additional teacher: Makes reductions following aldermen's vote

The Board of Education cut an additional teacher from its budget, reduced its allocation for substitute teachers and made other adjustments to accommodate a Board of Aldermen reduction to its 2017-18 spending plan.

The school board had to reduce its 2017-18 budget by $382,316, which resulted in a budget of $91,954,266 for the new fiscal year, cutting back on programs that administrators believe will have the least impact on students.

The board had initially planned to cut 14.4 teaching positions, but adjusted that to 15.4 positions to save another $60,000. Those reductions include 3.4 in special education teaching positions and 12 reductions of regular education teaching positions.

Five of those regular teaching positions will be cut at the high school level and seven at the elementary level. Of the special education teachers, 3.2 will be cut at the high school level and .2 at the elementary level.

The new budget represents less than a half-percent increase over the current year’s budget of $91,611,950.

In January, the school board voted to approve a budget of $92,336,582. The proposal was then sent to the Board of Finance for consideration.

In March, the Board of Finance voted to reduce the Board of Education's proposed budget by $40,000, resulting in a recommended budget of $92,296,582.

Then, on May 15, the Board of Aldermen, in adopting its budget for fiscal year 2017-18, voted to reduce the finance board’s recommendation by an additional $342,316. The aldermen also reduced other department requests in an attempt to make up for anticipated state revenue reductions.

The Board of Education therefore had to reduce its proposed budget by $382,316.

In addition to the reduction of one more teaching staff position, the board voted last week to reduce its substitute teacher account by $100,000 and cut $40,000 from its School Resource Officer (SRO) account. The board had allocated $40,000 for an additional SRO, but since the city did not match that, it would not have been able to hire an additional officer anyway.

The board also reduced its contracted services for copiers by $40,000; building and grounds projects by $63,000; equipment, furniture and computer allocations by almost $63,000 and professional development by about $14,000.

James Richetelli Jr., chief operations officer for the Milford Public Schools, stressed that none of the core educational areas will be cut. He said there will be teacher layoffs, but insisted this will not cause significant harm because student enrollment is declining.

Board Chairman Susan Glennon said the expectation is that most teacher reductions will be handled through attrition, with retirements offsetting the staff reductions. While several actual layoffs are anticipated, those teachers would be the first called back if the need arises, she said.

“I think the overall budget is a good one that meets the needs of students and the school system,” Richetelli said.   

Richetelli said building projects will be prioritized based on the safety of students.

Computers will remain up-to-date despite cutbacks, Richetelli said, adding that the school system relies on experts for the most up-to-date equipment.

Republican board member Thomas Jagodzinski said he believes the budget will have “minimal impact on students.”

Jeffrey Burt, assistant superintendent of schools, said the Board of Education must balance the welfare of students with fiscal responsibility.

“We want to continue to improve while balancing the needs of students and being fiscally responsible,” Burt said.

The board’s initial budget request represented a .791% increase in spending over the current year. The final approved budget represents a .374% increase.