Milford School District Referendum, Message from the Superintendent

Dr. Phyllis Kohel
Milford School District Superintendent

Dear Parents and Citizens,

We are asking for your support in passing an Operations Referendum so that we can address the financial needs of our district. Due to budget cuts over the past several years, our students and our teachers have experienced cuts in programs and benefits respectively. The upcoming referendum on October 6, will help us address those issues. We need your help. Please support our children and our teachers by supporting the referendum.

Voting will take place at Morris Early Childhood Center Banneker Elementary, and Milford High School from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

The students of the Milford School District are continually offered the best resources available to give them every opportunity to grow academically. We are a school district committed to excellence. We hire the best teachers and administrators available, and we use data to drive our decisions on where to spend our resources to get the most in student performance for each dollar that we spend. Based on the State’s per pupil allocation of $13,865, Milford receives $2,123 less per pupil than Woodbridge; $3,042 less than Cape; and $5,352 less than Sussex Tech. We have worked extremely hard to give our students, parents, and the community excellent schools at the lowest cost possible.

Since 2010, the State has required that the districts pick up the cost for a number of important initiatives. For example, there was a time when the State provided each district with a fully funded Reading Resource and Math Specialist. That is no longer the case. If a district wishes to hire a reading or math specialist, that teacher comes out of the district’s allocated units based on the unit count, and the State only covers a portion of the salary. The State also cut funding for extra time programs such as summer school and afterschool tutoring, tuition reimbursement, tax relief allocations, and much more. The districts now have to pay a 10% share of pupil transportation which costs this district approximately $275,000 each year. The State reduced Division II Energy money during a time when energy costs increased by almost 37%. We have had to absorb all of those additional costs and just like you, we have a budget that has become extremely taxed by all of the State’s now “shared” costs.

Over the past three years, Milford has had to draw approximately $1.2 million per year out of its required reserve in order to meet all of its financial obligations. However, even after cutting building budgets, the operations budget, the athletic budget, etc. by 30 percent across the board, eliminating some athletic programs, renegotiating the School Resource Officer contracts, and more, we are still operating in a deficit. As an additional effort and oversight, we invited the Department of Education’s Associate Secretary, who would head the financial review team, to review our financial position and budget, and he concluded that an operations referendum was our only recourse. We have to find a way to maintain financial stability. We cannot continue down this same road. We are losing teachers to districts who pay higher salaries; we are unable to offer new and expanded courses of study to our students because we don’t have the space nor the money to do so; we can’t begin to reinstate what we’ve cut without a successful operations referendum.

In the first year following the passing of an operations referendum, the district will address the current budget deficit of approximately $1.2 million dollars, support student safety and restore curriculum and program reductions made as a result of budget constraints, assist with the recruitment and retention of teachers by adjusting local salary supplements, support increased operational costs including energy and fuel, support the expansion and/or creation of programs as space will allow, and replace outdated technology in classrooms and maintain current technology.

We need our parents’ and the community’s support to help us maintain the integrity of our academic, vocational, and arts programs and to continue our success at producing superior academic performance. We need your vote on October 6 for the Operations Referendum. Voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Morris Early Childhood Center, and Banneker Elementary, and Milford Central Academy. Your help and support are greatly appreciated.

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