Milford school operating budget survives meeting

MILFORD – Voters on March 8 will face a $39.6 million school operating budget and a $3 million bond for school building improvements.

At the School District’s Deliberative Session last week, an amendment to reduce the budget by $322,000 failed by a 58-29 vote. The amendment, from the Advisory Budget Committee, would have eliminated more teaching positions on top of the 4.5 position cuts already in the School Board’s budget.

There needs to be "a hard discussion about staffing levels," Budget Committee Chairman Rick Wood said, because of shrinking enrollments and revenue and the need for more building maintenance. "The community can’t afford a 7.27 percent increase in taxes," he said. Some speakers questioned the quality of education, and Steve Takacs, of Whitten Road, questioned spending on cocurricular activities and student support. Gary Daniels, a state senator and Milford selectman, said school officials should consider dropping some high school courses and replacing them with more math and science. Daniels’ motion to cut the budget to a 1.3 percent increase over this year’s budget failed to get a second.

Others defended the schools, including Joan Dargie, a Destination Imagination volunteer, who cited Milford students going to Ivy League and other top-tier colleges.

The Advisory Budget Committee supports the facilities bond, with Wood saying it is important to make some investment in building maintenance, though he questioned the wisdom of spending money on new windows and doors for Bales School, since it’s an old building and relatively few students and teachers use it.

On the long list of planned improvements that would be covered by the 10-year facilities bond are the replacement of heating pipes at the high school and air conditioning of the school’s interior sections, as well as renovations to classrooms, restrooms and locker rooms at the middle school.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.