More Money Proposed for Security, Substitutes at Milford Schools

Superintendent requests an additional $209,000 for school security and $350,000 more for substitute teacher pay.

Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser would like the 'greeter' program at the district's elementary schools to expand to its middle schools. Mathewson School pictured above. Credit: Jason Bagley
Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser would like the 'greeter' program at the district's elementary schools to expand to its middle schools. Mathewson School pictured above. Credit: Jason Bagley
Proposed cuts in staffing allow for more dollars for school security and substitute pay under Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser’s proposed budget for 2014-15.

Feser has put forward an additional $209,000 for school security measures and an added $350,000 for substitute pay.

The new costs are in part offset by proposed cuts to staffing.

Feser’s budget calls for the reduction of 15 full-time regular teaching positions, which carries a projected cost savings of nearly $1 million.

“Most of this is driven by declining enrollment,” Feser said in her budget presentation to the Board of Education on Monday. School officials estimate that there will be 53 fewer students enrolled in the district next year.

The $90 million budget represents a 1.326 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year – the lowest percentage a superintendent has requested in at least a decade, Feser said.

Deliberations continue Wednesday and Thursday (7 p.m. both nights) as school board members are scheduled to meet for budget workshops in the Board of Education room at Parsons Government Center. A vote is expected next week.

Upgrades to school security

“We want to maintain security and build upon it,” said Feser, adding that investment in school security measures – special resource officers, greeters and infrastructure – has been “lifted to a new level with Sandy Hook.”

Last spring, the Board of Education approved funding for half the costs of four school resource officers – one in each high school and two split among the district’s three middle schools.

An additional $159,000 in next year’s school budget maintains this level of funding, which is the school board’s share for the program, Feser said. “We need to put it in the formal budget,” she said.

Feser is also seeking an added $50,000 for three “greeters” at the middle schools. The position has no formal school security responsibilities but provides “a warm and familiar face (that is) comforting for students,” Feser said.

Greeters admit visitors into school buildings, check identification, help students get where they need to go and assist secretaries with certain administrative work, Feser said. All the elementary schools in the district have one.

“Every elementary school principal is besides themselves with joy,” Feser said. “We would like the same thing for the middle schools.”

Substitute teacher pay rate ‘woefully short’

Milford pays elementary and middle school substitutes $75 a day and high school substitutes $90 a day. That’s not cutting it, says the superintendent.

Most subs work for more than one district so they pick whichever pays the best, and Milford’s rate falls “woefully short” compared to neighboring towns, Feser said.

“We know we are competing against other districts that pay more than us,” said Feser, who’s proposing that the district bump up its per diem rate to $90 for elementary and middle school substitutes and $100 for high school substitutes.

Feser called $100 “a pretty common amount.” She said the pay rate was last lifted some five years ago. The proposed raise requires an additional $351,000 in next year’s budget.

Students miss out on curriculum without a substitute teacher in the classroom, the superintendent said. Generally, the district can find subs for absent elementary school teachers but it’s harder at the middle and high schools.

“There are days in a middle school when you need 10 substitutes,” she said.

To come: A breakdown of Feser’s hefty investment in technology.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 09:39 PM
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: "The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize."
Alice January 15, 2014 at 09:49 PM
Yes, but is it really "the school" expenditures when the bulk of new expenditures are for security? I am not dismissing the need for security by any means, but I wonder why these costs are allocated to the Education budget rather than the City Police budget. I don't think we should have to sacrifice 4 teachers to pay for more security in our schools. I agree that the school budget is the last on which any of us should economize, but let's look at what is in that budget and whether it belongs there.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 10:03 PM
@Alice...I think you missed my point...
Alice January 15, 2014 at 10:18 PM
Sorry, please explain. All I was saying is that extra dollars for security should NOT come out of the "education" portion of the budget. These security issues are new, and I don't see why the school budgets should have to fund them at the expense of current staffing levels and programs.
Concerned Parent January 16, 2014 at 06:54 AM
My comment is based on the type of cuts being made. I've reviewed the budget is it is very disturbing which areas our Superintendent has chosen to propose cuts or eliminations. This should be a wake up call to parents in our town as this appears to be a trend in our school district. Less focus on the children's education, more focus on salaries and non-essential spending. "http://www.milforded.org/uploaded/MPSLatestNews/1_Superintendents_Proposed_WITH_Page_numb_2014-2015.pdf"
A14MT January 16, 2014 at 09:52 AM
well after all that it puts the savings at -119000 after all the talk of spending and cutting. Why get rid of teachers and hire more subs, keep what you have and use as floaters, that way teachers can hold on to their jobs and the government is not taxed in unemployment and the unemployment rate in ct does not rise. It is really a no brainer.
tlkensington January 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM
I second CP. We should spend more on education and less on non essential spending. Why are we laying off 15 teachers to hire security guards?
Concerned Parent January 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM
I find it extremely disturbing that there are people in our town that are given carte blanche on how our tax dollars are spent for educating our children. I find Dr. Feser's appropriation of funds to be more self serving...classic example..In the 2014/15 there is $125K for a data portal which only serves to provide student information to staff at work and at home providing teachers with the ability to plan timely interventions and accelerations for students. Addl'l $125K so teachers can work from home??...Add'l $122K for only Technology Support? Add'l $50K for greeters for the middle school so the administrators fell all warm and fuzzy. Add'l $350K for substitute teacher pay increases? Salaries make up over 70% of the school's budget..Of that 70% only 55% is for regular education...We are lucky if there is any money left after that to buy pencils. Last years spend for salaries was $88.8M, now this is where is gets a bit foggy, even after all the teacher,para cuts, they are proposing $90M for 2014/15! That's a 1.17M increase from last year! All this in the wake of talks surrounding declining enrollment, the need to reconfigure our High, Middle, and Elementary schools. All this and still, even after cuts to ESSENTIAL staff and services, we are seeing this type of increase. WAKE UP PEOPLE...This is immoral.
Fake Name January 16, 2014 at 11:41 AM
What's in this budget that will have a positive impact on Milford's falling test scores? Is that issue even acknowledged in the budgeting process?
Concerned Parent January 16, 2014 at 12:08 PM
@Fake, it does not take an Accountant to see that the budget proposal set forth by Dr. Feser is more administration-centric. Spending that makes it easier for administrators while taking an approach to allow students to suffer thru their Common Core approach, which by the way only shows $81K for the curriculum..but a staggering increase for the administrative tools to only help them with administering and evaluating assessments. I cannot express the level of disgust I have for the way our school district is being directed.
John Hanks January 16, 2014 at 01:44 PM
So to increase elementary school subs by $15 a day and high school subs $10 a day we need to increase the substitute budget to $351,000 for the year? There's that many substitute teachers on a daily basis? Students miss out on curriculum without a substitute teacher in the classroom, the superintendent said. - I don't know about anybody else but when I was in school (here in Milford) we missed out on curriculum WITH a substitute teacher in the classroom. It basically turned into a study hall.
John Pasnau January 18, 2014 at 03:12 PM
All "Greeters" will do in a Sandy hook type situation is take the first bullet. What a total over reaction and waist of public funds, defending against a once in forever type danger while letting daily needs slide. Shameful pandering to the most hysterical in our society.
Carol Fredericks January 19, 2014 at 07:06 AM
What a joke .... So cut teachers to pay for more subs? Why can Paras who do all the work any time a teacher is absent!!! Give them the money !


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