Milford schools

Milford Schools Close Budget Gap, Receive Additional Federal Funding

MILFORD — The city’s schools will receive more federal money than expected, according to operations manager James Richetelli.

The city received just under $5.9 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Program, or ESSER, Richetelli told the school board during its meeting this week. The total was about $49,000 more than he had expected, Richetelli said.

The ESSER 3 funding, from the third round of School Relief Grants, brings Milford to a total of $8.2 million in federal aid this year, a slight increase from last month’s projections.

Through May 19, schools had spent $3.1 million on COVID-19-related expenses, Richetelli said. Schools also closed the projected budget gap of about $178,000, from $1.3 million to just over $1.1 million, he said.

“It’s really because we’re coming to an end, and we can predict with good certainty where we’ll be in five weeks with our spending,” Richetelli said.

The budget was also boosted by food service accounts, which have increased revenue since students returned to school, Richetelli said.

“Participation in free breakfast and lunch programs has increased since returning to school, especially during breakfast,” he said. “We really believe we’re getting closer to trying to completely close that gap.”

Richetelli said the district food services director and her staff “have also gotten very creative about how we distribute food to as many families as possible who need it or want it.”

More than 700 students currently receive breakfast at school each day, Richetelli said. In previous years, that number was closer to 300 or 350, he said. This level of program participation has helped the food service program reduce its projected deficit from over $170,000 to approximately $60,000.

“It’s really good news because the kids get a good meal in the morning, and every meal we serve or give to a family is reimbursed by the federal government,” Richetelli said.

All of this news comes on top of the fact that schools probably don’t need to apply for a special allocation to balance the 2020-21 budget, Richetelli said.

“We believe, we know that we will be able to cover the shortfall in the operating budget,” he said.

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