School board approves Dr. Feser's budget request

The Board of Education this week approved School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser’s budget plan for 2016-17 as presented.

The budget plan represents an increase of .8% over the current year, and is the lowest budget increase put forth in at least the last 12 years, Dr. Feser said when she presented the spending plan several weeks ago.

The budget proposal calls for spending $91.786 million in 2016-17, $776,312 more than the current year’s budget of $91.010 million.

“I appreciate the thorough examination of the budget by the board and their thoughtful questions,” Dr. Feser said Friday. “I am also grateful for the board’s support of the budget, not only the bottom-line figure, but of the modest but important requests we made like the half-day Pre-K class, a language lab, and funding for the computer science pathway program in the middle and high schools.”

In a budget document she presented to the school board along with her budget plan, she said that in addition to being fiscally responsible, the budget seeks to “sustain programs and supports aimed at providing to every child a quality education.”

The plan includes what Feser described as “modest requests,” creating a new half-day pre-kindergarten program at Pumpkin Delight School to serve about 35 children; creating computer science pathways, which are courses aimed at learning computer science career skills, at the middle and high school level; creating a language lab at East Shore Middle School, hiring an additional School Resource Officer (SRO), and paying $280,000 more for school busses following last year’s board decision to decrease the distance that students walk to school, thus increasing the number who ride the bus.

The total is about $560,000 for new requests, and Feser said savings will more than make up for that.

School board Chairman Susan Glennon commented on the process the board went through before approving Dr. Feser’s plan.

“The board devoted three workshops to discussion of the budget and submitted over 60 questions to clarify items that were included in Dr. Feser’s proposal,” Glennon said. “It was clear to board members that she scrutinized each line item to find reductions in current spending and, in doing so, was able to present us with a budget that holds the line on spending while still meeting the needs of the students. The board is appreciative of the financial support given to the district by city leaders and taxpayers in recent years, and this budget will sustain and strengthen programs put in place during that time.”

Next the Board of Finance will  review the school spending plan, as well as the city budget plan, before sending its recommendations to the Board of Aldermen for approval. The Board of Finance will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. at Milford City Hall on the spending plans.

The budget is typically adopted in May.