School board unanimously supports superintendent's spending plan

UPDATE: The Board of Finance public hearing on the budget, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, at Milford City Hall, has been rescheduled to 6 p.m. 

The Milford Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday night to support School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia’s 2019-20 budget proposal and to forward it as is to the Board of Finance for review.

The superintendent’s plan calls for spending $95,078,487 for the 2019-20 school year, which marks an increase of 1.89% over the current year’s budget of $93,315,155.

Cutaia said the budget advocates for the educational needs of Milford students and continues to move the school district forward, while being mindful of costs.

The school board reviewed the plan during an earlier workshop and asked questions about certain items, and in the end members said they viewed the spending proposal as thoughtful and progressive.

Board member Adam DeYoung described the spending plan as “incredibly conscientious,” and one that accomplishes much that the board hopes to achieve.

Highlights of the budget proposal include starting to teach foreign language in kindergarten and first grade. Today, Milford students start learning a foreign language in grade six.

Other initiatives include providing students with Chromebooks, starting with grades five through nine, and hiring an additional school security guard, to work at The Academy. Today there are two security guards at Jonathan Law and two at Foran high schools, but none at The Academy.

Replacing classroom furniture, starting with three classrooms in each middle school, will play into “revisioning” classroom space, moving toward furniture that is movable, comfortable and makes a classroom more free flowing and flexible.

Board of Education Chairman Susan Glennon said Cutaia’s budget proposal and leadership continue many years of “able, steady leadership of Milford Public Schools.”

Glennon said she is excited about the spending plan and its initiatives, but urged monitoring on a couple of fronts, including plans to provide students with Chromebooks. She cautioned that some people are concerned about “increased screen time” for students.

This was Cutaia’s first Milford school budget proposal as the new superintendent of schools, and she thanked the administrative team that worked with her to put it together. She called it a team effort “to come to what is a numerical representation of what our hopes and dreams are for kids.”

Cutaia also thanked the board for what she called “thoughtful questions” which she said, “makes us better leaders.”

Next in the budget process, the Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on the city and school spending plans Monday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m. at Milford City Hall. That is a chance for residents to come and share their ideas about the budget proposals. Mayor Ben Blake has not discussed his spending plan for 2019-20 yet, but is expected to soon.

The finance board will review the city and school budget proposals before voting on a spending package in March. The Board of Aldermen will then review the proposals and vote on a 2019-20 budget in mid-May.