Milford schools

Salaries, utilities among reasons for Milford schools budget request


MILFORD — The school district has requested $102 million for the 2022-23 school year budget, an increase of about 2.3% from the current budget of $99.7 million.

“While I believe we have been a leader among our Connecticut State colleagues in staying ahead of the academic needs of our young people and responding quickly to social, emotional and mental health needs, this budget represents an increase in meeting those needs as well as the impact of some factors beyond our control,” Superintendent Anna Cutaia told the school board this week.

Approximately 71% of the budget will go to salaries, 6.4% to tuition, 6.1% to benefits, 5.6% to transportation, 4.3% to facilities, 2.46% to school supplies and equipment, 2.1% to contracted services, 0.92% to other support services and 0.88% to other educational aids.

The final vote on the 2022-23 budget will take place on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

“Even before we started going to school departments and asking them what we can dream of and where we can grow for next year, we were faced with a $1.9 million raise,” said Cutaia. “The $1.9 million represents approximately 85% of the 2.28% increase in the overall budget. I think it’s because our team has done a great job of finding efficiencies and reductions as we move forward for next year.

The first driver of the budget was salaries which have a net increase of 11 full-time equivalent positions.

“We decided early on in the process with our school board, we were going to invest in school counselors, have one in every elementary school, and then add an additional one in middle schools,” Cutaia said. “We would move some of these advisors out of the ESSER and ARP grant year after year for the next three years so that we don’t have a huge funding cliff in three years when the grant expires. This represents four FTEs leaving ESSER to avoid this significant funding cliff in two years. »

Cutaia said they needed to add four teachers to meet class size guidelines last year, but those four teachers weren’t in the 2021-22 budget, which adds four teachers to the 2022-23 budget.

“This pilot alone costs about $750,000 upfront before we start scheduling events for kids,” she said.

Salaries due to COVID for building replacements, cafeteria helpers, retirements and others are also included in the proposed budget.

“This pilot has an impact of around $200,000,” Cutaia said.

Life and health insurance for ages 65 and older increased by about $65,000 and $300,000 prospectively.

Utilities are increasing year on year, but Cutaia said there was a significant increase in electricity.

“There were some fresh air ventilation requirements due to COVID,” she said. “Compared to previous years, we regularly ran the fresh air ventilation, but sometimes we ran these systems 24/7 to respond to the pandemic.

Cutaia said software packages such as Google Workspace are increasingly being used in all schools.

“As they added features, we were able to leverage those features and use them system-wide,” she said. “We see a place for the use of this more and more of us are normal in classrooms. We believe we will continue to use Google as a key technology tool. »

In transportation, the district expects an increase in contracts, and rising fuel costs are also affecting the school district.

“Additionally, we had to invest in cyber insurance,” Cutaia said. “In the event of a data breach, we need protection, so we had to go out and find a carrier that would provide us with cyber insurance.”

The 2022-23 budget also includes system enhancements, including world language in pre-kindergarten and fourth grade, a pilot math program in all middle schools, new high school electives, and technology improvements across the district. school.

President Brian Lema pointed out that the school district expects about 300 fewer students than planned for the upcoming school year. Still, staffing remains at the same number and asked how the school district approaches enrollment versus staffing.

“It would make a layman if enrollment goes down, then staff should go down,” Cutaia said. “But we have so many factors that impact staffing that enrollment doesn’t equal staffing.”

She added that they had to be careful not to increase the size of classrooms or start removing staff from high schools and reducing the number of electives offered to students.

“When enrollment is down, if you’re trying to maintain the staff you have, a school district can brag that we have good class sizes,” Cutaia said. “Secondly, a good thing to say for a school and a city is that we have a wide range of choices for our young people. Third, due to the pandemic, our children need support in the area of ​​social, emotional and mental health learning. This is no longer a conversation of teachers in class. We are also wondering how many teachers outside the classroom we need.

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