Milton Public School officials are requesting $538,000 for new teachers and curriculum costs for next year as part of a three-year plan to advance science initiatives, improve early literacy, and narrow proficiency gaps.
The funding is contained within a $2.1 million increase in the requested budget for fiscal year 2015, and is the second year for the “advancement” program intent on solving Milton’s biggest concerns.
“This [year two] advancement budget that we’ve been putting forward has to be the driver, it has to - those are the things to bring about changes that need to be made,” said School Committee Chairwoman Lynda-Lee Sheridan in a phone interview.
Administrators first requested funding in the current fiscal year 2014 budget. Approximately $515,000 was used for additional staff, materials, and professional development.
Requests for fiscal year 2015, beginning July 1, 2014, continue in the same vein. School officials have asked for two additional full time faculty, two part-time faculty, professional development, extended day learning programs, early literacy reading materials, and new science curriculum materials.
The remaining two-thirds of the overall budget are for increases to already existing programs - special education and athletic costs, increases to utility costs, higher transportation fees, and increased salaries.
A $2.1 million increase has been granted to Milton Schools in the past, from fiscal year 2013 ($35.4 million) to fiscal year 2014 ($37.5 million budgeted). Yet nothing is assured for the coming year, town officials said.
“The cost of running the school system increases every year,” said Warrant Committee member Darnell Turner. “Trying to work those numbers into a budget is going to be what we try to do. But we also have the same things with police, fire, DPW budgets in town - trying to get them all to mesh. That’s where we are right now.”
The budget will need a recommendation from the Warrant Committee before seeking approval at Town Meeting.
Though new initiatives may be primed for the chopping block, school officials are adamant that the increases are necessary.
“Because we’re focused now on what the needs are, identifying these three areas to make improvement, this is a powerful vehicle to move this district forward…and it’s the second year in a row,” Sheridan said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for us to see the impact.”
According to Sheridan, the evidence that the program is working is mainly anecdotal, as funding only just started to be expended in September.
Regardless, Sheridan was hopeful that the entire budget would be approved.
“I think education has always been a priority of members of this community and we’ve supported it with beautiful buildings and budgetary needs in the past," she said. "I can always be hopeful we can continue this good work."
To read more about the school’s FY15 budget, click here.