No School Money Cuts before State Funding has been determined
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On Wednesday, March 8, the Milford Board of Finance will vote on the city budget for 2017-2018. On this five-member board, two members have suggested the board consider making anticipatory cuts in education spending as our city faces a proposed -- but not yet determined loss of approximately $11 million in state Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funding for the coming year.
While Gov. Malloy has indeed proposed significant reductions in state funding dramatically directed towards Milford (second highest in the state), these cuts, which could amount to approximately $1,900 per student, are yet to be determined by the CT General Assembly and are still being debated.
We will know more about the potential outcome of these state fiscal determinations when the Board of Aldermen considers and votes on the Milford city budget in May. Decisions regarding how our city will respond to significant losses in state funding can and should be made at that time. To do so now would be premature and not based on any factual amount.
Additionally, the Milford Board of Ed has presented the Board of Finance with a very conservative budget, one that it feels will “sustain and continuously improve the education provided to the children in Milford,” while already taking into consideration potential losses in state funding. The total requested budget increase for Milford school spending is just .791 percent, which is the smallest increase proposed by a superintendent in 15 years and includes cuts to staffing, educational supplies and utilities. Within the schools budget 86% constitutes contractual items that can’t be cut, and a portion of the remaining 13.94% is budgeted for special education and state/federal mandates that can’t be cut. This means that any further cuts would have a significant impact on our schools.
We appreciate statements made by Board of Finance Chair Brian Lema and Mayor Ben Blake indicating the education budget is very conservative and it is not a place where we should be looking to make significant cuts at this time.
WHY DO WE NEED TO ACT NOW?
Should the Board of Finance make cuts to the school budget now, before the state funding has been determined, it would require a two-thirds majority of the Board of Aldermen to overturn. As such, cuts made by this appointed five-member board are extremely difficult to overturn and should not be preemptively decided on until the full impact of state funding is known.
For these reasons, we respectfully ask the Milford Board of Finance to make no cuts to the city's education budget now so that they can instead be considered in May by the Board of Aldermen.
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