April 08, 2020

Milford town meeting sought for schools

MILFORD — The Union 90 school committee has agreed to ask town officials to schedule a special town meeting in February to address some pressing needs, Union 90 Superintendent A. Keith Ober said.

At the proposed meeting, which Ober said is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 25, voters will be asked to transfer $12,000 from the tuition account to the account for school supplies, and to borrow up to $130,000 to address air quality problems at the Lewis S. Libby School.

The meeting is subject to approval from the Board of Selectmen, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday night.

Paper, pencils, books, rulers, markers and masking tape are just a few of the items classroom teachers here listed when asked what they needed, Principal Ellen Small said Friday.

“It’s just hard to fathom that you don’t have those things when you’re teaching in the school,” she said.

Residents were warned of that possibility last July 2. At that time, townspeople cut $152,800 from the school budget they had approved the month before.

Further complicating matters is that the School Department must comply with a new line-item budget format, which took effect at the start of the current fiscal year.

The easy passage of Milford’s original $3.6 million school budget for this school year, which reflected an increase of more than 8 percent, was unexpected when it occurred at the end at last year’s annual town meeting in June.

Unlike the town meetings of the past few years, voters here initially approved the school budget as proposed by school officials. Voters even kicked in an extra $27,000 to restore half-time positions in music and guidance.

Town officials, however, were required to schedule a second town meeting after residents upset with the school budget increase — and the effect it would have had on their property tax bills — submitted a petition demanding a chance to revisit six warrant articles approved by voters on June 10.

Because of the budget cuts, elementary educators so far this year have been unable to replenish their stocks of various school supplies.

According to Ober, the town’s elementary school is running low on such basic instructional supplies as paper and textbooks.

Money from the tuition account is available because a few high school students, for whom the town expected to pay tuition, have moved to other communities, the superintendent said.

The loan would enable school officials to make improvements to air quality and air circulation in the older portion of the Libby school, Ober said. A similar project recently was completed in nearby Greenbush, also a member of Union 90.

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