$3M proposed to fix schools

MILFORD – Some big-ticket school building improvements are part of a $3 million bond the School Board will review at a budget hearing next week.

The district’s annual budget and bond hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, in Room 182 at Milford High School.

Among several high school improvements included in the bond is air conditioning for interior rooms and the gymnasium.

Superintendent of Schools Robert Marquis said infrastructure needs "had been on the back burner," and the air quality of those high school spaces has been a longstanding issue.

"The community makes use of the gym, and it gets very, very stuffy," he said, "and the inside rooms have no ventilation."

Also proposed are a new floor for the gym and 75 new interior doors for the school.

For the middle school, the bond will pay for restroom remodeling, new lockers, and replacement of roof air handling and air conditioning equipment.

For Bales School, the bond would cover new windows and doors to enhance security.

The bond would also pay for a new automated district-wide energy management system for $370,000.

The estimated tax impact of the 10-year bond is 3 cents for the first year, 29 cents for the second year and going down to 24 cents by the final year.

The School Board’s proposed operating budget for 2016-17 is $39.6 million, and the district’s Advisory Budget Committee is expected to ask for more staff cuts to bring it down to $39.3 million.

The elimination of one staff position, a middle school teacher, is part of the budget so far.

"We tried to stay away from cutting staff," which has the most impact on students, Marquis said. "I think the board feels confident they can operate the schools and provide very adequate education" with this budget.

The district is working under a 2015-16 default budget, and the amount of the proposed default budget for 2016-17 is still being debated, Marquis said last week.

The next steps in the budget approval process will be the school Deliberative Session, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4, and then Election Day, March 8.