Proposed Milford School Budget Cuts 15 Teachers, Adds Three

Milford superintendent presents her school budget for 2014-15, cites declining enrollment as the primary driver for a proposed reduction in staffing.

Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser Credit: Patch File Photo
Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser Credit: Patch File Photo
The superintendent’s proposed school budget for 2014-15 cuts 15 full-time regular teaching positions (non-special ed) for a projected cost savings of nearly $1 million.

“Most of this is driven by declining enrollment,” Milford Superintendent Elizabeth Feser said at a Board of Education meeting Monday.

School officials estimate that there will be 52 fewer students enrolled in the district next school year.

“There is a bubble of students moving through fifth grade but already declining enrollment at the middle schools,” Assistant Superintendent Michael Cummings said.

Meadowside School, for example, is projected to see its average fifth grade class size lose some 50 students next year, according to figures from the district.

At Harborside, the average seventh grade class size is expected to decrease by about 40 students from this year to next.

But the trend isn’t exclusive to Meadowside or Harborside; the district as a whole has 1,100 fewer students than it did a decade ago.

After the meeting, Feser said the decision on what specific positions would be affected has yet to be made.

Here are some highlights
of the superintendent’s $90 million budget proposal, which calls for a 1.326 percent increase in spending – the lowest percentage a superintendent has requested in at least a decade, Feser said.

(check back later for the details)

Requested increases in spending

$351,265 for substitute teacher pay

for classroom technology

for four School Resource Officers (one in each high school, two split among the three middle schools)

for two Pre-K teachers

$105,668 for four media aides

$81,000 for curriculum and assessment development

$65,000 for a strings program teacher

$49,980 for three “greeters” at the middle schools (under school security)

Requested reductions in spending/savings

($988,000) in 15.2 teaching positions in regular education

($287,342) in 14 paraprofessionals (four regular education, 10 special education)

in facilities savings (utilities)

($60,000) in two secretaries

($50,000) in transportation (new arrangement fueling school buses)

Budget deliberations continue Wednesday at 7 p.m. when school board members and administration meets for a workshop in the Board of Education room at Parsons Government Center.
Fake Name January 15, 2014 at 06:10 AM
Does it seem like the leadership of the Milford schools system is moving it in the right direction?
Michael Nelson January 15, 2014 at 08:22 AM
I'm new to the area, including the politics and prior decision making re the education system. From what I can tell, things can only go in the right direction. It's my understanding a prior decision maker thought breaking up the school system would be great, but didn't necessarily account for the lack of parental commitment to the school, given the short tenure of a student. Or the disruptions with the buses on their routes. Or the unhappy parents of multiple kids, forcing them to hit multiple destinations in a short period of time, which leads to pulling kids out of the system, etc. The decision makers now seem to understand the problem and are doing what they can to address it. Time will tell - I was watching my 6mo old and couldn't attend last night.
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 08:51 AM
The decision maker who pushed that idea is still a decision maker and received a raise this past summer.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 09:38 AM
Having greeters is NOT a solution to safety. The key is to delay to provide the police time to respond to any problem. This can easily be done by retrofitting each school with a second set of entry doors and using safety glass. Also, the one thing that continues to amaze me is that there is no mechanism for detection. I would think by this time, with all the news surrounding students bringing weapons into the school, most recently in a backpack, that metal detectors would be installed. They are a transparent solution but for some reason are not being examined. Deterrents only work for so long, and greeters are just a patch. A one time investment, which would probably be less in the long run financially, would resolve these security gaps. The district already have adequate security protocols in place, there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 09:47 AM
So what happens to the kids outside for gym or recess? Those doors don't protect them.
James January 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM
By the time you are done paying for the metal detectors and the staff required to run them, it won't be worth the expense. Just put a police officer in every school and there is your fast response time. TLKensington is correct, metal detectors do nothing for safety outside of the school, dropping off, buses, gym, etc. An office on site would help in just about every scenario. I fail to see any tactical advantage in hiring these greeters.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM
tkl..this is not a gestapo camp and again, if there are mechanism for detection, the risk is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced if not eliminated. If someone suspicious is spotted on the grounds during recess or gym (which has in the past), the children are quickly brought into the school.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 10:09 AM
@James...What staff?...If someone is detected, a silent alarm is triggered..to the main office and police department. No different than a fire alarm, but silent. The school executes their security protocols at that point. Regarding safety outdoors, you can read my response to tlk on his point.
James January 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Concerned Parent, you want a silent alarm going off every time the detector goes off? LOL. Good luck with that. Your solution is not practical.
James January 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Concerned Parent... Take this scenario, a crazy man brings a large knife into the school and enters quickly. Your silent alarm goes off and the police are notified. They rush to the scene and have an amazing response time of three minutes and are able to kill or detain the suspect very soon after getting to the scene. Don't you realize how many children will be stabbed within those initial three minutes? I bet it can be over 20 if the crazy man is very determined. The only way for the kids to really have safety is a well trained and armed presence at the school that can quickly handle any threats.
Tim Chaucer January 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Could those with ties to private schools be behind the dismantling of public schools? Food for thought.
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 11:38 AM
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 01:10 PM
Here's the fault in your example. With an extra set of doors with a metal detector installed, detection would be immediate before reaching the 2nd set of doors. The perpetrator would probably be delayed long enough for the police respond and arrive on site. The children and the staff would be completely safe during the whole time. If I may ask, what is prompting your adverse position to metal detectors, it is an effective solution. Simply tell students they are not allowed to bring metal objects into school because of the installed detectors. I personally don't see an issue because the school has already banned students bringing baked goods into school, extending it to metal objects should not be that big of a stretch.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 01:11 PM
@Tim...Ask any educator in Milford where their children attend school.. There lies the real answer to your question.
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 01:17 PM
Is anyone else having a hard time picturing what CP is talking about?
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 01:20 PM
House keys are metal. Electronics have metal. Belts can be metal. Change is metal. Earrings. Jewelry. The spoon for yogurt at lunch. Yes lets ban metallic objects.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 01:52 PM
@tlk...do you realize how silly you sound. Schools have been using metal detectors for YEARS....
James January 15, 2014 at 01:57 PM
CP has good intentions, but, in my opinion, nothing, nothing, nothing will keep our children and school employees safer than an armed officer on site. TLK, you are right, the false alarms will be through the roof which is why you have to pay for someone to man the doors where the metal detectors are and be ready for the children to be subjected to pat downs. I much prefer the police office being on site and I know that would be more effective.
tlkensington January 15, 2014 at 02:44 PM
Exactly James. We would not only have to buy enough metal detectors but have enough trained personnel. So what next? Requiring kids to show up with stuff in clear ziplock bags? Random searches? Every 10th kid getting additional screening? These are suppose to be schools not airports. Would need multiple people on site everyday just to man the detectors. I think CP should send his kids to school in Bridgeport. There are metal detectors there. His kids will be safe.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 04:07 PM
There is no way one greeter will prevent intrusion, especially with schools that have multiple entrances. Foran is a classic example with 3 separate entrances. Presume what you may with metal detectors, but they are effective. They've used them for years in New Haven without issue. What I find amusing is that the solution to addressing school safety is really quite simple and painless to implement, unfortunately people make it appear complex.
Tim Chaucer January 15, 2014 at 09:31 PM
The fact that teachers who work with your children every single day are on the chopping block with no thought to cut central office people illustrates that these people are out to undermine the education of your children, and, ultimately the Milford Education System. This will cause some parents to take their students out of the Milford School System. More declining enrollment to justify totally unnecessary "reconfiguration". I honestly believe parents should demand an outside inquiry by an investigative agency. I talked with a friend of mine who was very involved with building New Haven Schools. He said heads should roll for the waste of taxpayer money ( and he insisted it had to be substantial); people should be held accountable for the last failed reconfiguration. Time for an outside agency investigation of the dismantling of this once proud school system.
Concerned Parent January 15, 2014 at 09:41 PM
@Tim...I've said it before...The school district is being led by a group of unethical and immoral individuals.
tjc360 January 16, 2014 at 08:07 PM
They make the decision, then call a meeting to tell the parents, end of story, we have no say in anything that happens with education here. When they switched the system a few years back, not one of the board members even had any kids in the system, so they do not got have a clue what we, the parents went through, also it was supposed to solve the 2 million dollar hole and did nothing!
Concerned Parent January 17, 2014 at 09:30 AM
To all...Does anyone know of any agency parents can engage to have a review of this budget? There is a disturbing trend happening in our district. I'm extremely concerned about the academic welfare of our school children and appeal to anyone who can provide any guidance because at this point, as a parent, I feel powerless. Thank you.
Tim Chaucer January 17, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Parents need to organize; pool resources and hire an OUTSIDE AUDITOR and LAWYER. I have no kids in the system or grandkids but I CARE ABOUT MILFORD'S ONCE GREAT SYSTEM. CONTACT PTA leaders; ORGANIZE and PUSH BACK.
Gary Tobin January 17, 2014 at 10:59 AM
I WANT TO THANK BOARD OF EDUCATION MEMBER - JOHN DeROSA – FIRST DISTRICT, FOR REPRESENTING THE COMMUNITY. Mr. DeRosa is a newly elected member on the Board and is strongly representing the community during these budget proceedings. The proceeding that don't include the public. Asking questions to clarify the meanings, inquiring on what certain things are and why and asking for supporting documents. Mr. DeRosa is the Minority Leader on the board but in more ways than one. The Minority Leader is the title / position representing the party with the least elected members, there are less Republicans than Democrats. But he is truly representing the minority party in the Milford Education System, THE PUBLIC. Thank You Mr. DeRosa.
Fake Name January 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM
@CP: you could always vote with your feet...
tlkensington January 17, 2014 at 01:09 PM
CP, how hard could it be to fill the room for this? Seemed easy for people fighting affordable housing. If you are that vexed then try to organize people. Or you could do like Fake Name says.. leave town.
Michael Nelson January 17, 2014 at 02:23 PM
Jason Bagley, have you ever considered a comments drinking game where the pessimistic troll means a shot of whiskey, the wolf-crying, sky-is-falling quasi-activist is a shot of vodka and each ghost of a member of this society who reads the article, has a question or idea but then reads the comments to realize they don't want to enter this electronic madhouse is a morning after aspirin? Personally, I'm not sure what I would die of first.
Concerned Parent January 17, 2014 at 04:30 PM
@tlk, your predisposition for sarcasm is beginning to show its ugly face once again.


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