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Milford Schools Seek 1.9% More in New Budget

Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser proposes some big changes to the administration structure.

The proposed 2012-13 Milford school budget brings a total overhaul of the curriculum department and a 1.92 percent spending increase from the current budget. According to administrators, it’s the lowest percentage increase sought in a decade.

“We knew we needed to be responsible,” Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser said during a press conference on Monday morning. “It would be irresponsible to come with a large increase.”

She added that the goal of the budget wasn’t to maintain the status quo, but to improve the schools as a whole. Her budget totals $87.1 million, a $1.6 million increase from the current year.

The other big changes proposed by Feser include expanding afterschool and summer offerings. There is a planned reduction of 12 teaching positions, attributed to the curriculum department’s overhaul and a projected decline in student enrollment.

Changes to the Curriculum Department

There are 14 curriculum coordinators in the school district who spend half their time as teachers. In Feser’s plan, all 14 positions would be dissolved and the coordinators would go back to teaching full-time. To make room for the teachers, 7.08 existing teaching positions would be removed.

Five administrators would be hired to oversee curriculum on a full-time basis. The salary for each is approximately $120,000.

Feser said the current coordinators do a “yeoman’s" work but that the position itself is flawed. This is her first budget as Milford's superintendent. She started in the spring last year. 

“They don’t have the time, they don’t have the resources and they don’t have the authority to bring about change,” she said.

According to Feser, the proposed administrators will lead the development of curriculum, administer student assessments, help develop teachers and work closely with principals.

Fewer Teachers, Fewer Students

In addition to the seven teaching positions being removed because of the curriculum department restructuring, five elementary teacher positions would be eliminated. Feser and assistant superintendent Michael Cummings said this was done due to a projected decline in enrollment.

According to figures used in determining the budget, the school population is expected to decline with 1,000 fewer students in the next decade. Reducing elementary schools by five teachers would save $200,000.

“That’s the hardest piece [of the budget] because that’s the human part of it," said Feser.

Still, Feser said that she doesn’t expect for all 12 teaching positions to be layoffs due to retirements and teachers leaving for other reasons.

Afterschool Help

Students lagging behind can get extra help after school in the proposed budget. An extended day program at and allows 40 students from each school to attend 90-minute programs to help learning.

“One of the struggles we have,” said Cummings, “[is] the longer you wait to intervene with a student, the higher the hill.”

Five new summer programs, some for gifted students and others to help struggling students, are planned, in addition to the expansion of after school programs in the middle school. The total cost is $236,406, which will be offset by the fewer elementary school teachers and supplies needed.

What’s Next

The Board of Education will weigh in on the budget and must present their version to Mayor Ben Blake by Jan. 31. After that, the Finance Committee will have their say before the Board of Alderman cast the final decision in May.

“It’s just a very responsible budget,” Feser said. “We’re really pleased to bring [the budget in] knowing what the city is facing economically.

Hal DePino January 10, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I think the author of this article needs to go back to schol himself to brush up on proper grammer and sentence structure.
Bill January 10, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Five administrators at $120,000 each to oversee curriculum -- and cutting the number of teachers. Very questionable.
Michael Brown January 10, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Hal. It would be more polite for you to send Mr. Krage a personal email.
Michael Brown January 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
". . . the school population is expected to decline with 1,000 fewer students in the next decade . . ." Is this assumption based on the eroneous cenus numbers (they forgot to include Woodmont).
Hal DePino January 10, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Michael Brown talking about politeness? Have you made a New Year's resolution you'd like to share with us?
John Pasnau January 10, 2012 at 09:50 PM
If they want 1.92% they should have asked for 5.76% After the BOE is finished the next stop is the Finance Committee, a group of people elected by no one and accountable to the same no one. Then the Board of Aldermen get to use this unelected group as an excuse for not doing their jobs. "Well we are just following the Finance Committee recommendations". What a crummy system.
Michael Brown January 10, 2012 at 11:42 PM
??
Michael Brown January 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM
That definitely has been the case in the past. Lets hope for a better day. One member of the fiance board has been replaced, and we have 7 new members of the Board of Aldermen.
Emily Constance January 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM
school* grammar*
CuriousOrange January 11, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Fewer students + fewer teachers = more money? Is this the new math? Go back and do it again, Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser, until you get it right.
carol van pala January 11, 2012 at 02:28 PM
CuriousOrange is right. Few students, more administrators at $120,000.00 very curious. Carol
JE January 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I attended the meeting an listened to the presentation. The contract salary increases alone are higher than the 1.9 increase in the budget. The administrators in question are replacing coordinators who teach 1/2 time and do admin duties 1/2 time so those teachers will go back ito the classroom full time. It's basically a swap of dollars, not new dollars and the adminitrators will be able to do more in terms of supervision and evaluation than the currect teacher coordinators and will work more hours. Definitely sounds like more value for the dollars to me. The number of teachers has already been substantially reduced in recent years and there are 5 more set to go next year because of less students. I personally think Feser put alot of thought into this budget and it seems having a new set of eyes looking at the school system has brought some good things to the table.
Michael Brown January 11, 2012 at 03:28 PM
The math is a little more complicated than that. The teachers have a contract with th city that allows them to get an increase in salary.
Larissa Watt January 11, 2012 at 09:52 PM
I agree JE. Rather than just attend the presentation, citizens who still have questions should make their way to a budget workshop which explains each individual item.
Judy Goldwyn January 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM
I, too agree with JE. It's easy to sit and criticize, and impossible to please everyone. I think the after school and summer programs are long overdue. Congratulations to Dr. Fester for her insight into what Milford schools need, and her courage to implement the change. I'd love to know whether commenters have children in the schools.
anonymous February 07, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Is there a budget that will educate our students about internet safety? I recall recently being asked to sign off on internet use if I wish to have access to my child's grades and if I wish to have a higher level of equal opportunity in education by allowing my child to receive the same information for learning. I feel a little bit pressured where I understand this can only be a voluntarily process but will allow for more federal funding as a result. Now I ask who will educate our children about internet safety. There are parents who cannot afford continuous computer involvement and internet access or those who just do not know what can happen to our children through internet. Who will be certain in the Milford school system to make up for areas where we are not able to teach our children here? Students might not be allowed free access to all information when in school but it sure gives them a basis to learn how to find other information outside and become victims of those looking for them. Every grade needs appropriate training about internet safety. Every child will benefit if taught about how to choose a password. What might be the possible impositions by using the talking and camera devices? And fingerprints? Should teachers have a right to encourage on the computer a very private mark that cannot be removed later? Where do we draw the line to allow our children to make these decisions on their own when adults?

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