Kindergarten costs to remain in school budget

MILFORD – They put up a good fight, but residents who tried to reduce the school district budget couldn’t rally enough votes at Thursday night’s deliberative session.

Both the $33.8 million operating budget and a $1.7 million bond for kindergarten construction will go on the ballot for the March 10 election.

Leading the charge was Steve Takacs, state Rep. Bob Willette and selectmen’s Chairman Gary Daniels. Their chief target was the $470,430 in the budget for kindergarten staffing and equipment, half of which will be reimbursed by the state.

Four attempts to amend Article 2 to reduce the operating budget failed, the last one with a vote of 68-76.

“I am really disappointed that the school board put kindergarten in the budget,” said Willette. “Now there’s no way citizens can show what they feel about it.”

>>Town Meeting ‘09<< Steve Martin, a former school board member, told the anti-kindergarten residents to "direct your frustration to Concord." He also said kindergarten staffing is too heavy. "Fifteen kids per classroom is extremely low," he said. Schools superintendent Bob Suprenant told him that schools with 18 to 20 children per class use full-time aides, and Milford will use a shared aide. When Board Chairman Peter Bragdon was asked where the cuts could come from if the budget was reduced, he said he trusted administrators to come up with recommendations. Also going on the town ballot is an article for $646,332 to pay salary and benefit increases from a four-year contract with teachers, and an article for $142,648 to pay increases for the district's first-ever contract with the Milford Educational Support Staff Association. The meeting lasted nearly three hours, and residents voted to restrict consideration of the major articles so that re-votes could not be taken after many people had left the meeting.