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Milford Beacon
  • Milford school board cuts some sports programs, staff positions

  • The Milford school board approved a $13.3 million local spending plan on Monday that includes the elimination of three student athletic programs, 20 extracurricular positions and allocations to local schools among other cuts.
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    • BY THE NUMBERS

      Local expenses approved for FY2015 = $13,318,821


      Local expenses approved for FY2014 = $13,877,157


      Reduction = $558,33...

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      BY THE NUMBERS

      Local expenses approved for FY2015 = $13,318,821



      Local expenses approved for FY2014 = $13,877,157



      Reduction = $558,336.89 (includes a 2.07-percent negotiated salary increase and experience-based raises for staff)



      Amount transferred from contingency funds to balance budget = $1,263,061

  • The Milford school board approved a $13.3 million local spending plan on Monday that includes the elimination of three student athletic programs, 20 extracurricular positions and allocations to local schools among other cuts.
    The athletic programs dealt the axe on Monday included high school winter track, middle school track and high school competitive cheerleading. Those cuts will save the district $13,170, a fraction of the amount needed to offset the deficit spending that’s expected to deplete the district’s contingency funds by Fiscal Year 2016.
    All told, the school board approved $558,336 in spending cuts Monday to help close a $1.8 million spending gap this year. The remainder will be filled with $1.2 million in one-time transfers from the district’s contingency fund.
    “Our preference would be not to have to make any cuts, either from local line items or athletics, but unfortunately we’re in a situation where it’s a necessity,” Milford School District Superintendent Phyllis Kohel said. “I appreciated the board’s efforts and their having to vote on that, it’s a very difficult thing to do.”
    Swimming, which was on the chopping block during previous budget discussions, was saved after the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club reduced its yearly pool rental fees by 50 percent and waived team meet fees for the entire year.
    “The decision with the sports was primarily made while looking at whether or not we would have anything to offer that particular group,” Kohel said. “For instance, with track, there’s other venues available so students can still participate in the running events, same with the competition cheerleading and winter track. Swimming was the one program where if it was cut, the students had nothing similar to that in which to participate.”
    A previously debated “pay to play” option, which would charge students $50 to play any sport and could potentially raise more than $30,000 a year for the district, was not discussed during the June 23 meeting.
    Additional spending cuts approved in the district’s budget include the elimination of 16 coaching positions across nearly all district sports, four additional extracurricular activity positions and numerous 20-percent cuts to locally-funded line items within the budget, like individual school budgets and maintenance costs.
    In recent years, the Milford School District has been balancing its budget by dipping into its contingency fund. In March, the district sought to close that gap through a referendum that would have supplied $2.1 million a year in operational costs through increased school taxes, a request that was rejected by local voters.
    If the district continues with its current rate of deficit spending, its contingency fund will be depleted by the end of the 2015-2016 school year, according to Milford School District Chief Financial Officer Tammy Korosec.
    Page 2 of 2 - Even with cuts approved Monday, the district must continue dipping into its contingency fund to balance its budget. For fiscal year 2015, the district has budgeted $1.2 million to come from those funds to balance local spending. In fiscal year 2014, the district used $1.8 million.
    Despite the budget cuts, the district must fund a 2-percent raise for employees that was negotiated as part of a two-year labor contract that ends June 30, 2015. Any previously negotiated contracts, like salaries or contracted services, cannot be cut without violating existing labor deals, according to Korosec.
    “We have to stay competitive in our salaries or we’re going to continue to lose some great people,” Kohel said. “We want to attract the best teachers we possibly can for our students. It’s difficult to maintain a competitive salary and still have to make the budget cuts we’re making, so we’re just doing the best that we can.”
    Milford School Board President Marvin Schelhouse said the district’s next step is to work toward scheduling another referendum, which will be discussed during the board’s next meeting at 7 p.m. on July 6.
    “It’s not because we’re not managing our money properly, it’s because of federal cuts and state cuts and we have to start somewhere,” Schelhouse said of the district’s financial woes. “It’s a difficult time for homeowners and taxpayers, but you have to have good.”
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