Board OKs school budget cuts

Some classes, stipends reduced in Milford MILFORD – High school woodworking classes and stipends for coaches will be affected by budget cuts approved by the School Board last week. Voters on Election Day rejected the School District operating budget. To make up the $238,000 difference between the budget and the default budget, the board asked Schools Superintendent Robert Marquis to create a prioritized list of reductions.

The board chose the first 13 on his list, many of which involve funding changes, with no direct impact on students or staff. At the March 21 board meeting, Marquis called it a "very difficult process" to avoid cuts that directly affect students and staff and have enough so that the district can continue with its technology plans. Board Chairman Paul Dargie said coaches and club advisers haven’t received an increase in about five years, and some have been working for no pay. The $11,000 cut "basically eliminates the planned increase," he said in an email. "The plan was to also provide funding for those coaches and advisers that have been providing services for no pay for a long time."

A new pay structure will be developed that incorporates the people who haven’t been paid, and provides a fair distribution of stipends. Everyone seemed to agree the system needs to be revised. Board member Ron Carvell said it is time for the district to look at outsourcing coaching to save money.

Reducing the woodworking teacher to part time would decrease the number of classes available. Dargie said this is probably a temporary change, and because of student demand, the high school will likely make the position full time eventually.

Athletic transportation funds also were cut. The budgeted amount was $5,000, and Dargie said if the district falls short, it will reallocate money from another account to fund it. A special education program associate position is being eliminated, but there is an unusually high number of one

on- one associates at this time that will make up for the loss to some extent, he said. A $3 million bond for improvements to three district schools also failed at the polls. Board member Len Mannino said voters he talked to said they didn’t think Bales Schools is worth the money allocated for it. The bond would have paid for new windows and doors for the 19thcentury building.

Air conditioning the high school gym was part of the bond, and resident Bob Thompson told the board people believe air conditioning is a luxury. He also called Bales "a money pit."

Thompson added that he is "delighted to see no reductions to the teaching staff" under the default budget, but is worried that if there is a default budget next year, it will cut into instructional time.

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