District eyes spending on its youngest
MILFORD – The town’s youngest students are virtually the only focus of new school spending in this lean economic year.
The school district, under a state mandate to educate its 5-year-olds, has $276,000 for kindergarten staffing in its proposed operating budget.
In addition, an article on the school district warrant will ask for $1.7 million for a four-classroom addition to the Jacques School. The addition would go on the site of the Bales School addition, which would be torn down. The state will pay for 75 percent of the building cost.
The public hearing on the school budget and bond hearing is set for Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. in the high school library.
In total, school spending would increase by 6.2 percent if all warrant articles pass, and the local school tax rate would go to $13.75 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, a 3.7 percent increase.
The district expects about 160 students to show up for kindergarten and intends to hire 5-1/2 teachers for 11 sessions of half-day classes, with 14 or 15 students in each class.
“That 14 to 15 per class obviously gives us wiggle room for additional students,” said Superintendent of Schools Bob Suprenant.
The 160 students represent 80 percent of the approximately 200 Milford 5-year-olds who’ll be ready for kindergarten this year. If all 200 enroll, or if Lyndeborough tuitions kindergarten students to Milford, there will be enough staff to accommodate them.
If the addition is approved, the district expects it to be completed by September.The district’s operating budget proposal is $33.83 million, about 3 percent above the budget approved last year, with a default budget of $33.78 million that would go into effect if voters reject the proposal.
Also on the warrant are contracts with the professional and support staff groups.
The contract with the Milford Teachers Association calls for a 2.5 percent increase in salaries and wage-driven benefits in the first year, amounting to an additional $646,332. Raises are not retroactive.
First-year costs of the district’s new three-year contract with the Milford Education Support Staff Association are about $150,000, with two 6 percent wage increases the first year to make up for the years without raises.
Jennifer Burk, a member of the school district’s negotiating committee, said the union agreed to health insurance and other concessions and support staff will pick up more of their premiums.
Voters can discuss the budget and warrant articles at the school district’s deliberative session, which is set for Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. Election Day is March 10.
Annual meeting coverage throughout the region is online: www.nashuatelegraph.com/townmeeting
IF YOU GO
What: Budget, bond hearing for Milford School District.
When: Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.
Where: Milford High School cafeteria.